Alton Road Construction: Restaurant Killer

Starbucks_Alton_Rd_Construction.jpg
Lyssa Goldberg
Chef Bernie thought his street looked "ghetto as shit" even before construction.
Chef Bernie Matz says that carving up Alton Road has taken a bite out of his business. Matz, who is executive chef of Lincoln Road's Café at Books & Books, also owns Bernie's L.A. Café on 15th and Alton. He's worried about whether his restaurant can survive the summer.

The state project is expected to take 26 more months. It has torn up sidewalks, required detours, and reduced parking spaces. "For a small business like us during the off-season... when you add this into the equation, it's very concerning," Matz told Short Order. "I've seen a huge decline in the last month."

Matz wonders, "How many people are just going to say 'Screw it' and get off of South Beach or 'Screw going anywhere near Alton Road'?"

See also:
- Traffic Hell: Alton Road Reconstruction Begins Today

Alton_Rd_Construction.jpg
Lyssa Goldberg
Yellow bags cover parking meters along Alton Road near Bernie's L.A. Café.
In addition, Matz says the reconstruction has removed all of the parking near his restaurant on both sides of Alton Road and all the way around the block. "Basically they've taken 98 percent of my parking spaces, so now forget it. Forget about someone driving over. That's just not going to happen. I'm either getting someone who's walking over or getting a delivery."

The good news is his business is nearly 40 percent delivery-based. The bad news is it's nearly impossible to make deliveries. "My delivery guys can't get around town, so our deliveries are slower," he says. "And traffic's a bitch."

Other small restaurants along Alton that have endured construction include Master's Italian Restaurant and Greco Boys Grill. And as the construction continues to its final destination at Fifth Street, it'll hit others along the way, such as the recently opened Umami Burger on the corner of Tenth Street.

Jimmyz_Kitchen_Construction.jpg
Lyssa Goldberg
Hey, signmakers, it's Jimmy'z, with a z.
Alex Castro, a front-of-house manager at Jimmy'z Kitchen, just a few steps down from Bernie's, said he can't be sure if it's the season or the construction, but he has also noticed a difference. "If they have their mind already set on Jimmy'z but they see the street blocked, they're going to think, 'OK, the restaurant must be closed.'"

Customers have been telling Castro it's a pain to get to the restaurant, so many are opting for delivery. Meanwhile, he's anxious about construction continuing south. Until then, he's looking on the bright side.

"If they move down a little farther, I think everything's going to be fine," Castro said. "The business is going to keep running the same way... You've just got to wait and be patient."

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Location Info

Bernie's L.A. Cafe - CLOSED

1570 Alton Road, Miami Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

Jimmy'z Kitchen

1542 Alton Road, Miami Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

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11 comments
Sal Goldberg
Sal Goldberg

If these businesses aren't being compensated in some form for their directly resulting losses, it is truly criminal on the state OR local communities part.

sal97
sal97

What's truly sad is while Miami Beach can attempt creative efforts to partner with landlords & tenants in the form of a tax credit or temporary reduction in rent, to best of my knowledge they leave the entrepreneurs that have in many cases contributed to tax base for many years alone to walk a tightrope? Can someone speak knowledgeably to whether these businesses are compensated in any way, shape or form?

internetinternet
internetinternet

Miami Beach government response will be to lessen parking requirements for new structures and build more public parking garages.  The more people the city attracts the more often the roads will need to be repaved due to wear. 

Oscar Sosa
Oscar Sosa

people complain when the roads look like shit and have pot holes and they complain when they are trying to fix it.. so damn if you do and damn if you dont.

Kristen Ledesma
Kristen Ledesma

I work on Lenox and 15th. The traffic is a pain in the ass and it is super difficult to get anywhere using a car; I only go places I can walk. Also, the construction is not pleasing to the eye, so I try to avoid it.

Jerry Gonzalez
Jerry Gonzalez

Kickbacks to greasy politicians construction will never stop.

Theodore Hayes
Theodore Hayes

Yes. They will take forever to complete it as per usual.

Larry Boudon
Larry Boudon

A necessary evil, since traffic on Alton Rd. has become ridiculous.

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