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Miami Beach Officials Hope Curfew Boosts Public Safety, While Businesses Lament Profits Loss

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Verónica Zaragovia
/
WLRN News
The Clevelander on Ocean Drive announced it would close from March 19 to 24, due to concerns over safety of patrons and staff during the spring break period.

When you walk into the Alma Mexicana restaurant between 13th and 14th Streets and Washington Avenue in Miami Beach, you'll hear soft music but not much else these days.

Manager Edmundo Tarin said the curfew imposed by the city last weekend is hurting them.

"We're super affected by it," he said. "Usually people walk by and get to know us and eat here. Now tourists are being told to stay inside their hotels at a certain hour, so basically there’s no business."

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He added that they have roughly 40% of their regular sales. The only option Alma Mexicana has after 8 p.m. during the curfew days is to sell food for delivery only, but their delivery worker quit due to the upheaval.

Sydney Austin, the manager of a bike and segway shop near Ocean Drive, also had concerns. He said two or three groups of at least 10 people have either canceled their reservations or suggested they might.

"They don’t want to come to the city because they’ve heard so much bad press and they’re actually scared to come," Austin said. "So it has negatively impacted our business a lot. I can see the writing on the wall."

As he shared his worries, a large group of people walked into the store. A colleague came out to tell him he needed help, and the business received a small burst of optimism.

Another optimistic person in Miami Beach was Ronisha Lightfoot, visiting from Houston, Texas. Last Saturday, because of the curfew, she said she wasn't able to celebrate her birthday at a club with friends, "but that’s OK. We made it good," Lightfoot said.

"We made it worthwhile of coming out here from Texas. So hey ... I will come back. I will come back," she said.

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On Friday, after things on Ocean Drive got too intense, the popular Clevelander bar and restaurant on Ocean Drive closed down, rattling locals. Wednesday it reopened for customers and in a statement, the management wrote it will offer low-key events so people aren’t gathering on the streets.