Coconut Grove’s retail community has been invigorated by the new restaurants opening in the downtown area, say market watchers, and will be vastly improved with trolleys and legislation to alleviate traffic congestion.
The Business Improvement District currently has 38 restaurants, according to Executive Director Manny Gonzalez. That’s the most on record since the BID’s inception in 2009, he said, increased from 31 in 2014.
From November 2015 to March 2016, 11 restaurants opened within the BID. These include Glass & Vine, Farinelli 1937, Spasso, Americano, Ariete, Ergon Greek Deli & Cuisine, Masa Taqueria, Harry’s Pizzeria, Choices, Spillover and Kitchen 33.
“We are excited to be part of this Coconut Grove culinary revolution that is happening before our own very eyes,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “With the various first-class Grove residential projects scheduled to go online later this year, the future of the area has never been brighter.”
Although the Bookstore in the Grove’s café isn’t brand new, the shop at 3390 Mary St. has expanded the menu and food services, according to staff member William Coizeau.
There’s a new chef – Chef Gary, as bookstore staff call him – who is trained in international cuisine and is offering daily specials as well as a new “breakfast smoothie bowl” that Mr. Coizeau said is becoming quite popular.
Additionally, the bookstore is working with Hy Vong, formerly on Calle Ocho, for occasional pop-up dinners in the shop; catering breakfast and lunch meetings for Grove businesses as well as individuals’ private parties; and has recently started to accept online orders via its website at www.thebookstoreinthegrove.com.
Generally, Mr. Coizeau said, the Bookstore in the Grove continually looks for ways to serve the community better and maintain the relaxed feeling of its interior. Recently, owner Felice Dubin started a pop-up store called Pages that’s devoted to “high-end, luxurious fine arts” books that tend toward art, poetry, architecture, music and fashion. Located at 2992 McFarland Road, the sister store opened Dec. 8 and will be up until Valentine’s Day weekend. Mr. Coizeau said the concept is for shoppers who want out-of-the-ordinary, hand-picked books that are suitable for presents or coffee tables.
In addition to the new culinary offerings, the Bookstore in the Grove has improved free WiFi to add to what Mr. Coizeau describes as an environment where customers can take refuge from their jobs or do their work surrounded by books and the smell of fine coffee coming from the café.
“We’re the only truly independent book store in all of Miami,” he said.
With the new and already established restaurants bringing more people to the Grove, the BID is looking at ways to mitigate traffic congestion and offer public transit for easy access. To that end, Mr. Gonzalez said, the BID is looking into working with the City of Miami to purchase trolleys for the area that would allow a connection from Mercy Hospital and possibly Coral Gables.
In tandem with the Miami Parking Authority, he said, the BID is exploring a centralized valet service for the area to allow for customers to drop off and pick up cars at any valet station designated within the district.
Also with the help of the Miami Parking Authority, Mr. Gonzalez said the BID is trying to introduce a delivery ordinance that would limit the hours of food and beverage deliveries within the district, allowing easier traffic flow and proving additional parking spaces by freeing up loading zones after the delivery deadline.
Currently, different companies delivering to the restaurants pull up large trucks any time of the day, holding up cars from passing due to unregulated hours. Mr. Gonzalez said the proposed plan is to limit the delivery times to a few days a week, beginning at 5 a.m. and finishing by 11 a.m.