By Jessica Sanchez and Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporters
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – A code of conduct for Lincoln Road and Española Way sidewalk café operators that includes a “no hawking” provision, will take effect on October 26th. The same code has been applied to Ocean Drive as of October 1st, and last week six businesses were forced to close their sidewalk cafes for a day.
On September 12th, the city’s social media asked the public, “If you have experience with harassing people hawking tacky or fraudulent “specials” in front of the sidewalk cafes on Lincoln Road or Española Way, please comment below or message us with your story.”
There were over 120 responses, one resident wrote, “How much time do you have? Most recently in August with friends visiting from Hawaii, we walked the length of Lincoln Rd after dinner. We were accosted so many times by restaurant hawkers that my friends’ reaction changed from surprise to amusement to annoyance.”
The city took swift action and now the no hawking rules for Lincoln Road and Española Way will take effect on October 26th. The code of conduct also prohibits the 2-for-1 specials signs and mandates gratuities to identified separately on bills.
On Ocean Drive, the new rules have recently been enforced. City Manager Jimmy Morales reported that 24 violations have been issued since October 1st, and six businesses have had at least two violations, and were forced to close their sidewalk cafes for a day.
The restaurants were; The Fritz, Jalapeno Mexican Kitchen, Boulevard Restaurant, Oceans Ten, Down N’ Dirty Tacos and Tequila Bar as well as the News Cafe.
“We decided to send a very strong message,” Morales said. “Frankly, for years now, residents and visitors have complained about the hawking, you know, maitre d’s chasing people on the street, trying to get them to go to their restaurant. […] It’s very unpleasant. The other restaurants on the street when they see the other cafes cafes close, I think it will change their behavior.”
As for penalties for violating the code of conduct, the first offense is a $500 fine; within the following twelve months, the second violation penalty is $700; for the third violation there is a $1,000 fine plus the suspension of the sidewalk café permit for the weekend and also within the following twelve months.
For the fourth violation, the sidewalk café permit will be revoked for the time remaining of the permit year, plus a $1,250 fine. If operators have more than four violations in a permit year, they are going to lose their permit for a period of two years.