Miami

What to Know About South Florida Businesses Reopening

From restaurants to beaches, here's the latest.

Museum of Graffiti
Museum of Graffiti
Museum of Graffiti

During the coronavirus pandemic, it’s been hard to keep all the rules and regulations straight. Certain counties have slowly begun to open up while others, right across the water, remain shut down. But this week, almost all of South Florida reopened its non-essential businesses, albeit with new restrictions and limited capacity. 
 
Even though restaurants and other businesses can open, not all are. When Palm Beach County allowed restaurants to reopen May 11, it gave owners only three days’ notice to hire back staff, train them in new protocols, sanitize the place, get disposable menus, and other “new normal” preparations. So many opted to wait.
 
“We wanted to take our time to train and make sure we were 100% ready to responsibly serve, so we delayed our opening a week,” says Batch owner Kevin Danilo, who operates locations in Delray and West Palm Beach along with its Brickell flagship. “Miami’s mayor gave us two weeks notice, so we’ll be opening the day we are allowed to.”
 
That day comes a full two weeks after Palm Beach County moved into Phase One, and a week after most of Miami-Dade opened. With three counties, more than 100 municipalities, and multiple cities beginning with the words “Miami,” “Palm Beach,” and “Coral,” who is opening what is probably the most confusing thing to hit South Florida since the butterfly ballot.
 
So if you’re looking to finally get that haircut, hit the gym, or just dine on something that doesn’t come with a plastic lid, here’s a quick primer on what’s opening up around the region — and what to expect if you go there.

Restaurants

Restaurants opened May 18 in all three counties, but Miami’s largest municipalities — Miami, Miami Beach, Hialeah, Doral, and Key Biscayne — are all waiting until after Memorial Day and opening on May 27. 

Most will be opening in 50% capacity inside, with unlimited seating outside provided they leave six feet between tables. City of Miami restaurants may reopen at 50% or 25%. “It’s unclear, could be either,” Danilo says. “We’re still waiting on further guidance.”
 
Still, many areas like Downtown Dadeland and Ocean Drive will be closing off their streets to allow for pedestrian access and increased outdoor dining capability. Brickell resident Jacqueline Coleman took advantage of the light US-1 rush hour traffic and dined at Pubbelly Sushi in Downtown Dadeland Monday, and noted the atmosphere to be especially relaxed.
 
“It was quiet, Pubbelly was really the only place open, but as the night went on it filled up,” she said. “We had people on tables on both sides, and the tables were full. I saw groups of friends with bottles of wine and sake.”
 
Her observations may indicate bottle service is back, but tables still have limitations. Groups are limited to four people, or six if they all live in the same household. Although how that will be enforced is anyone’s guess. Menus also must be single use or available via smartphone, utensils must be wrapped in napkins or disposable, and all food handling staff will be wearing masks and gloves — which much be changed out every 30 minutes
 
Despite the new regulations, restaurateurs say business has been brisk so far. “I think there is definitely a good portion of the population that’s ready to get back and resume their normal life,” says Tap 42’s vice president of development Alex Rudolph. “This past weekend, in Boca Raton, we had a really nice crowd, and a lot of people who were ready to get back out and dine.”

Bars

Bars, on the other hand, are not included in any of the Phase One plans laid out by the state or counties. You may see names like Batch and Tap 42 and say, “Hey, that’s where I used to go for after-work beers and Jager shots. How are they open but Club Deuce is still closed?”
 
Much like the smoking regulations that give the Deuce its signature scent, places that serve full menus are technically considered “restaurants,” and allowed to open. Places whose food menus consist of five-year-old bags of Combos are not. Still, those restaurants are only allowed to use the bar for food service, and must maintain six-foot distancing.

Breweries

Breweries also sadly don’t fall under Phase One, and most will still be relegated to selling crowlers and growlers to-go from stands set up outside. The exceptions will be breweries that also offer full restaurants, but the experience there will be different too.
 
“We’ve had crazy protocols to open the brewery,” says Julian Siegel, co-owner of Tarpon River Brewing in Ft. Lauderdale, which offers a full restaurant and is open this week. “No back door entry, no access to the tasting room, temperature check station. And we’ve arranged the barrel room to have socially distanced, air-conditioned seating.”

Beaches

Though your newsfeed may be stacked with pictures of people frolicking on the beach throughout Florida, Dade and Broward beaches will be closed until at least May 26. Miami Beach has said it won’t open its beaches until June 1. Palm Beach County beaches opened Monday.

Somehow, the actual ocean was closed during Miami’s lockdown, where police boats typically used for intercepting large shipments of cocaine were chasing down recreational swimmers. Fortunately, the water is back open, as you may have noticed by the armada of boats in Biscayne Bay last weekend. That said, don’t look for massive boat tie-ups or Monument Island parties any time soon — boats must stay 50 feet apart at all times.

Parks

Most city parks in all three counties are currently open, although some, like South Pointe Park in Miami Beach, have specific hours to ensure all of Miami doesn’t show up and ruin it for everyone. People who visit must wear masks unless they are exercising, and, no, following your dog over to a group of shirtless, socially distanced guys does not count as “exercise.”
 
State parks are closed in Dade, so if you were thinking you could skirt the closed beaches by heading out to Bill Baggs, it’s not happening. In Broward County, Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park is closed. But Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is open. In Palm Beach County, John D. MacArthur Beach State Park is closed, though Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound is open, and began renting kayaks and canoes last weekend.
 
Everglades National Park is partly open, so you’re able to head down to Flamingo or Long Pine Key for hiking or kayak/canoe rentals. As is West Lake, Royal Palm (Anhinga Trail), and the Coastal Prairie Trail. Shark Valley, however, is closed — as well as all visitors’ centers and campgrounds.

Gyms

While gyms in Palm Beach County are currently open, Broward is in a tug-of-war between the county and the city, where Ft. Lauderdale wants them open, but the county still says no. As of  right now, they are closed for the foreseeable future, but that may change soon. Gym-obsessed Miami, however, will still be relegated to exercising in living rooms or in the great outdoors, as gyms there are not set to open as of yet. Though one gym owner we spoke to said he received a call from the mayor’s office saying they were holding a conference call in the next couple of days to discuss opening procedures.

Salons

Barber shops, hair salons, and other “beauty” businesses will be open, but only by appointment — no walk-ins will be allowed. Both employees and customers must wear masks, unless it needs to be removed for stuff like shaves, lip waxes, and sideburn trims. And all customers will have to wait outside until their appointment begins.

Retail

Retail stores will be allowed to open, with only 50% capacity and masks worn at all times. You also won’t be able to see how your clothes look before you buy them, because fitting rooms will be closed. And any clothes that people touch or try on will need to be cleaned before being placed back on the rack. Stores will also employ single entrance points and traffic flow markers. 

Museums

Museums are currently allowed to open, and Miami Beach opened its museums May 20. That said, most large institutions are not yet open and have not announced plans to, though HistoryMiami alluded to “early June” on its Instagram. For its part, the Museum of Graffiti in Wynwood is open, requiring its employees to wear masks, providing hand sanitizer through, prohibiting on-site ticketing, and offering an airbrush tent where you can paint your own mask.

Movie Theaters

Movie theaters remain closed, and though both SwapShop locations didn’t make it through the pandemic, Dezerland in North Miami will begin showing drive-in movies in its parking lot this weekend. Carflix Cinema kicks off its run with a 5pm showing of Sonic the Hedgehog, an 8pm showing of the original Jurassic Park, and will continue every Friday with schedules expanding in the coming weeks. Sound will be played through car radios and you can order food via an app, which will be delivered right to your car window.Sign up here for our daily Miami email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

Curt Hollingsworth is a Miami native who spends his time enjoying the city, the sand, the Keys, and any bar that claims they have the best margarita in town.

Miami

Bad Bunny and David Grutman's Sexy AF Miami Steakhouse is Finally Here

The rapper does whatever he wants.

Photo by Michael Stavaridis
Photo by Michael Stavaridis
Photo by Michael Stavaridis

David Grutman is back at it again, and this time the hospitality guru is bringing a new partner into the fold-award-winning recording artist, Bad Bunny. Located in Miami’s trendy Brickell neighbourhood, Gekkō, which translates to “moonlight” is a Japanese-inspired steakhouse that will serve fancy cuts of Wagyu alongside a bevy of sushi offerings. In true Groot Hospitality form, this isn’t your basic steakhouse, it’s also got a lounge that very well may play the sounds of Bad Bunny and the like into the wee hours of the night.

“Gekkō is the result of so many of my obsessions in food,” says David Grutman, Founder of Groot Hospitality. “It’s a steakhouse inspired by Japanese cuisine. There are delicious, innovative sushi rolls. There’s a lounge. I knew I wanted to do something that combined these worlds, and once I started speaking with Bunny, I knew he’d be a great partner. Gekkō is about having an incredible meal while having an equally incredible night.”

Photo by WORLD RED EYE
Photo by WORLD RED EYE
Photo by WORLD RED EYE

To celebrate the opening of Gekkō (not so coincidentally the same weekend Bad Bunny has two shows scheduled in South Florida), the crew hosted a massive grand opening party that attracted dozens of A-list celebrities and friends of both Grutman and Bad Bunny. Upon arrival, in his white Bugatti, mobs of fans who spent the entire evening swarming the restaurant began chanting “Benito! Benito!” as he exited his car in an all black suit paired with black sunglasses.

The night went something like this. A-list artists of every genre came out to celebrate. Future and Lil Wayne were seen on a couch in deep conversation and catching up with Mack Maine. Bad Bunny and Karol G were spotted running from table to table together, while DJ Khaled was seen embracing Bad Bunny and congratulating him on such a beautiful new restaurant. Timbaland and Andy Garcia were spotted hanging out for a long period, while Sophie Turner and her husband, Joe Jonas, hung with Victoria and David Beckham. Amidst that hundreds of average joes mixed and mingled while attempting to make their way to the bar so they could get a peek at some of the restaurant’s cocktails and sushi bites. It was quite a scene.

Photo courtesy of Michael Stavaridis
Photo courtesy of Michael Stavaridis
Photo courtesy of Michael Stavaridis

Okay, so back to the restaurant. Gekkō was designed by New York City-based architecture and design firm, Rockwell Group, and is made up of three different rooms with seats for up to 185 diners. It’s centred around sultry jewel-toned decor with plush and stylistic elements like a custom gold and red dip-dyed rope installation, graphic wall coverings, and velvet drapery.

Now you might be wondering about the food, because that’s really why we’re going to a restaurant, right? Gekkō’s menu begins with shared plates where diners will find things like a signature Japanese milk bread, “Lava and Ice” Kumamoto Oysters, lobster dumplings, and a wedge salad. When it comes to raw plates there’s sushi and sashimi classics as well as an opulent 24k Otoro, that’s exactly what it sounds like-deliciously tender fatty tuna covered in a layer of 24k gold leaf.

Photo by Libby Vision
Photo by Libby Vision
Photo by Libby Vision

Then there’s the steaks which include a Tomahawk cut, an olive-fed filet mignon from Kagawa, Japan, and a snow beef strip from Hokkaido, Japan. Specialty preparations include Wagyu skirt steak and a bone-in ribeye. And because Grutman is always sure his restaurants cater to the tastes of everyone, there’s even some plant-based chicken options and more.

“Sitting down with friends to enjoy a good meal is one of the moments I value the most,” says Bad Bunny. “I am thrilled that now I will have a hand in creating this experience for others.”

Gekkō opens tonight at 8 SE 8th Street in Brickell. The dining room and lounge serve customers from 6 to 11 pm Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and 6 pm to 12 am Friday and Saturday. Valet parking is available for $20 or you can attempt to find a street parking on Brickell. Visit gekko.com for reservations.

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Amber Love Bond is a contributor for Thrillist.

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