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Friday, April 6, 2018

Restaurants on Miami Beach on the eyes of the local government

Por Damian

A restaurant in Miami Beach that customers frequently complained about for exorbitant and deceptive prices will remain closed until July, in what could be an effort of the municipal government against businesses accused of taking advantage of naive tourists. The decision, delivered recently by an arbitrator appointed by the local authority to settle disputes over the code, required La Baguette, at 1052 Ocean Dr., to remain closed for six months and submit new menus approved by experts, in addition to addressing the infractions about the sale of alcohol.

The Baguette was closed in January after an operation against the sale of alcohol to minors that resulted in the arrest of three waiters on charges of vending or serving alcohol to clients with less than 21 years of age. The municipal government also penalized the restaurant for not disclosing the price of food at tables placed on the sidewalk and for allowing customers to leave the place with open alcohol containers.

"The few rotten apples on Ocean Drive have to obey the rules", said Commissioner Mark Samuelian, who has sponsored a regulation that gives the local government more authority to take action against businesses that do not clearly announce the prices at the tables at fresh air. "The decision shows that the consequences will be severe".

La Baguette is one of several Ocean Drive restaurants whose customers have frequently complained about being overcharged and cheated, and have shared their reviews on digital websites of restaurant reviews, such as Yelp and TripAdvisor.

Some restaurants on Ocean Drive attract customers to their outdoor tables on the sidewalk using misleading food and beverage offers, or do not show prices on the menu, the Miami Herald said. A tourist who expects to take advantage of an offer of two drinks for the price of one, for example, may end up ordering, without realizing it, a huge 55 dollars cocktail.

The ordinance sponsored by Samuelian, which should be submitted to a vote at the Miami Beach Commission in a meeting on April 11, contemplates authorizing the municipal government to revoke those restaurants' permission that have outdoor tables with prices that are not clearly shown.

To reopen, La Baguette has to implement a "corrective plan" that includes hiring an out-of-service Miami Beach police officer for five months, creating new menus, which are then passed to the municipal government, and installing a camera system so that the administration supervises the business. The municipal government declined to comment on the referee's decision. A lawyer representing La Baguette did not respond to a request for comment. It is not known if the restaurant plans to protest against the decision.