Van Dyke's Closing: Lincoln Road Has Become the Luxury Mall It Was Meant To Be

Categories: Unreal Estate

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Van Dyke's Facebook
We all deluded ourselves into thinking that Lincoln Road could become some sort of quirky subversion of the suburban mall shopping experience. That the uniquely Miami culture the strip once exemplified could survive peacefully alongside giant corporations' fast fashion mega-stores. Sure, for a while it was a place where you could get khakis at the Gap and a cheap shirt from H&M to match, but afterward you could go check out drag queens, live jazz, a sale on mystical healing crystals, literary author readings, samba lessons or any host of outré diversions that would have seemed downright bizarre in any regular mall.

The announcement this weekend that it's closing time for the Van Dyke Cafe, the iconic restaurant and live jazz hotspot, is just the latest gut punch reminder that that era of Lincoln Road is long gone. Its character is now quickly becoming about as a bland as food court grub in a shopping mall. But we shouldn't be surprised. This is what Lincoln Road was always supposed to be, and that's sad.

Van Dyke's closing is just the latest in a string of exits from the pedestrian mall. Score and its drag queens now call a spot off Washington Avenue home. New age one-stop-shop 9th Chakra has relocated to Alton. Ice Box Cafe, a locally-owned dessert mecca that resided just off the strip, couldn't even ride an Oprah endorsement to Lincoln sustainability and relocated Sunset Harbour. David's Cafe II and Zeke's Roadhouse are gone too.

Nothing is sacred. No literally. The Miami Beach Community Church, located in prime property on Lincoln Road, is considering leasing its courtyard to a developer for further retail space in a $100 million, 50-year deal. "This is a miracle from God," the head of the church's board of directors told New Times. "It's truly a miracle from God that he would provide this church with these types of resources." We must have missed the parts of the Bible that characterized gentrification as a miracle.

In that same stretch of time, H&M opened in the old Lincoln Theater. Urban Outfitters now resides in a space formally occupied by an apothecary. Forever 21 is in the old Saks building. Apple and Gap are currently building themselves larger store spaces on the road. American Eagle and Zara are on their way. Not to mention a brand new Yard House restaurant, a chain owned by the same company that brought us Red Lobster and Olive Garden.

But Van Dyke's closure is particularly poignant. The restaurant helped revitalize Lincoln Road into what it was today.

Back in 1986 the Miami Herald characterized Lincoln Road as a "road to nowhere." Five years earlier a letter writer to the Miami News called it a "ghost town." As anyone familiar with Miami Vice could tell you, the early 1980s were not a particularly kind time to Miami, the beach in particular. Lincoln Road was a prime example. Storefronts sat empty. But then in the late '80s artists started renting out those stores as gallery space. Soon Miami Beach and Lincoln Road took on a bohemian vibe. Van Dyke was one of the first restaurants to set up shop in the slowly reinvigorating area, and certainly the oldest to have survived that era. It offered affordable but tasty grub downstair, but more famously offered live jazz and R&B upstairs every night.

It's a victim of the very revival it helped spur. Van Dyke never became less popular. Anyone who walked down Lincoln Road could see a restaurant as packed as any other on the strip, but it couldn't keep up with the rising rent on Lincoln Road.

"Had to happen no restaurant can afford $300 per sqft! Thats right 300++ a sqft on Lincoln Rd," tweeted John Kunkle, CEO of local (and perhaps rival) restaurant group 50 Eggs which owns Khong River House, right off the main Lincoln Road strip.

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76 comments
Imke Achenbach
Imke Achenbach

... the luxury mall it was ment to be... It used to be the most attractive street (world wide imho) Good bye , welcome corporate chain gang! Wait how far that goes when all restaurants are closed...

justmp81
justmp81

It's a cycle... Years from now tourist will leave as they tire of the mundane, those that remain will age to discuss from their front porch rocking chairs the days gone by, corporate retailers will have moved on, rents will decline, spaces will empty and start to decay, and hopefully just hopefully a new young hipster crowd 50 years or so in the future will re-discover what a cool place this must have once been, and start the cycle all over again.

miamiruthie
miamiruthie

My heart breaks to see the Van Dyke is closing its doors. It was the mainstay of Lincoln road and the final vestige of what used to be before the homogenization of the beloved road.It was where locals and tourists alike would meet. No hipsters,Just a cozy place to go. Just as if you invited someone into your living room and they could plop down on a comfy couch. So what is left now that greed is creeping stealthily through our city. It ruined the Grove in 1991 when they built that ugly monolith called Cocowalk. Watch out it's on its way to Wynwood. Soon the whole of what was once the Magic City will be like one big Bal Harbor. The soul of Miami is being methodically ripped out bit by bit and if that's not heartbreaking i don't know what is.

Jennifer Chapman
Jennifer Chapman

So sad. I have many memories working and playing the Van Dyke.

Jennifer Chapman
Jennifer Chapman

Wow I was just saying that this place will be here forever.

DRAKEMALLARD.0
DRAKEMALLARD.0 topcommenter

These people need to accept responsibility for their own actions instead of blaming everyone else. Rather than correct bad management etiquette,How  is their business still open??? Why would anyone eat in this place?? Bad food , water down drinks and some of the most  uptight employee that I ever seen  that think they going to the next Hollywood movie star. Always on their cell phone texting and not paying attention to detail on the order.  Come  on get with the program the owner of van dyke feel a sleep on the wheel. the food  and service was good 15 years ago. Hey Graziano Sbroggio blame your self. I bet you you love to exploited your worker with overworked and underpaid,no breaks, Unsafe/Unhealthy working Conditions. I feel sorry for the employees here and the other Restaurant you own.Unemployment checks are  not coming that right folks the employee sign a paper that say's they can't unemployment check.  The American standard of living is NOT the highest in the world and has not been for years. And its getting worse. I think that, you know, you're always going to see a rise up of the workers, of the people at a certain point when they've been oppressed long enough

timewarpshakti
timewarpshakti

You are only kidding the relative newcomers to the Beach... the Van Dyke OPENING was one of the first signs of the demise of Lincoln Road. Its closing is just part of the ho-hum corporate evolutionary cycle. The Van Dyke offered a steady history of over-priced and under-whelming food spiced up only by the great kiss-in that encircled it during their first year (hahaha funny how so many people have forgotten exactly WHY that kiss-in took place). I'd rather spend energy remembering some of the true pioneers of Lincoln Road like the Wet Paint Cafe...or the funky little bar (was it called boingo bongo?).. or the cool jazz place that eventually gave way to David's Cafe... or the original World Resources..or all of the unnamed, non-corporate, private gathering spots that were sucked up into the commercial vacuum called "progress".

Amanda Lynn
Amanda Lynn

Good article. That place was dead tonight!

Marcela Levy
Marcela Levy

Soooo sad that Van Dyke's closing... really sad.

SuOm Uheri Francis
SuOm Uheri Francis

they need to have the most bad ass shows now for free and gather support and show that we need the real Miami to stay afloat and thrive.

Chris Anthony
Chris Anthony

Rate control is needed before the area becomes a desolate ghost town for over priced unrealistic increases, space in Beverly Hills is only $30-65/sqft as opposed to the $300/sqft that Lincoln rd. is trying to get... not smart business

Linda Marie
Linda Marie

Lived there in South I LOVE JAZZ so I was either at VAN DYKE or JAZID. I sang HOUSE, sang my records at PRINCES club GLAM SLAM. If anyone know an up and coming area up the coast let me know. I need to get the heck out of Wisconsin and back to Florida...

cam89er
cam89er

This is what happens when too many people go to one place. Prices sky rocket. Don't like it? Move somewhere less populated. 

grantstern
grantstern topcommenter

Lincoln Road is dead.  Long live Lincoln Road!  #BeachProblems

Frank Castle
Frank Castle

The van dyke did not suck, why do people keep saying that on here? But I think I know why, most cuban people have bad taste and would like something more that resembles the tropical theme, ugh

Cindy Walas
Cindy Walas

Sad to hear about the changes. Everything is so generic these days, even Michigan Avenue!

jgcamp99
jgcamp99

Van Dyke Cafe is not the same as the News Cafe even though they are/were owned by the same. There were some items on their menu that were simply awful, and that dooms a restaurant when enough people eat it and spread the dissatisfaction. if you didn't order a specialty that they were really good at, McDonalds had better food. My bad menu item, their turkey burger. Paying $ 10+ for that when a 49 cent burger at McDonalds was superior, all you felt was raging dissatisfaction at getting ripped off.

Christine King
Christine King

Some cities know how to preserve their unique neighborhoods and do not issue permits to certain chains in some areas. San Francisco is one of them. They do not allow Walmart in for example anywhere, and small neighborhoods are full of mom and pops and should a chain should venture into them, like Gap did into Haight Ashbury no one shops there and they eventually close. There is value in uniqueness and local flavor, more money stays in the local economy when it goes to smaller businesses than when large chains take it out of the equation. Van Dyke did serve awful food the past years, what is sad is the loss of the upstairs jazz venue and the fact that another soulless boring chain will replace it. I still miss Agora, Fly Boutique and many other gems that once were part of the road.

Gregory Borowski
Gregory Borowski

I caught some of the Bohemian years. I miss a good table-turning fist fight going on while outside dining on a shrimp tempura maki roll at the older version of World Resources.

Street Art
Street Art

One last comment, development has transformed this sleepy southern town into a world class city. While all development cant be perfect it has made Miami a MUCH better place to live. If it leaves behind a legacy of large corporate retailers and the closing of well loved restaurants so be it.

JP Pompa
JP Pompa

Making a Huge Mistake!!! What a Shame!!!

Street Art
Street Art

Again the guy who owns that restaurant has made millions and yes the NEWTIMES applauded South Beach development as far back as the early nineties by singing the praises of Versace among others. Unfortunately you cant blame development as the destroyer of great eateries. Blame supply and demand, blame city council members but dont blame the owners of a property that changed hands for 19 million recently. They have to recoop their investment and rent is the only way they can.

Jody Yela
Jody Yela

Espanola Way is near and like being in Europe

Leslie Gallegos
Leslie Gallegos

Don't worry, I'm sure the tourists will love TGI Fridays or Applebee's.

el_negro_mama
el_negro_mama

Wynwood is gone. Even Allapattah, Little Havana and Little Haiti are starting to gentrify!

Cristina Ojeda
Cristina Ojeda

:c yeah, cause that's exactly what miami needs. another luxury mall... pffft.

Leslie Gallegos
Leslie Gallegos

The city should have initiated rent control years ago to keep leasers from raising rent so high that only the big box stores can afford it. I used to love Lincoln Rd...now it's just another outdoors mall with the same BS restaurants and stores I can find in any Simon mall.

Marc Rosado
Marc Rosado

Oh the hyperbole is deafening. The building architecture is staying the same other than awnings being removed and floor to ceiling windows being placed in place of entry ways on the ground floor. Look at the renders.

Erik Ace Artist
Erik Ace Artist

whats new ! I guess we will always have ocean drive #SobeArtist lol

DavidDennis
DavidDennis

So with Van Dyke's enjoying such success over a long period of time, and with the trend in real estate prices being pretty clear for a long time, why didn't they protect themselves by buying their building?  If you are visionary enough to find an emerging neighborhood, buy your building and participate in the rewards from capitalism instead of being a victim.  Why don't more bohemian types do this?  Once you've paid the mortgage, you're rich, and can move to the next bohemian place and start the cycle all over again ...

Rommy Lahera Aument
Rommy Lahera Aument

Everywhere is about money over history. The US is a country where history and historic buildings and architecture are not valued. Only country where buildings less than a hundred years old are routinely torn down. We won't ever learn from our mistakes if we keep erasing the past with bulldozers.

Raul Rln
Raul Rln

Apparently we must be subjected to the same string of generic BS all over the city. How many Walgreens, H&M's, Gap's, etc does a city need! Everywhere you go you find the same shit, nothing unique nor interesting! Since the developers don't have to live or shop in the area all they care about is thier profits. I worked on Lincoln back in the 80's and it was a desert, yet to see it as a generic vanilla shopping mall really sucks!

donwilner1
donwilner1

Graziano is not blaming himself- he is congratulating himself! He's making more money than he ever dreamed of!

jgcamp99
jgcamp99

I'm sure they will too, not much on the menu at the Van Dyke Cafe was ever good enough to be served at McDonalds, much more make the menu at TGIF or Applebees. 5 Guys has a better burger than the turkey burger at VDC.

donwilner1
donwilner1

The building was bought by mark Soyka years ago. Then he sold it for a huge profit. Any other questions?

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