In an effort to reduce crime on Miami Beach, city leaders are taking action. Voters can decide in November whether to roll back last call from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m.
But now, a new ordinance will make it more costly for hookah bars to serve.
Some hookah bars on Lincoln Road will have just weeks to change their business model or pay more in rental fees.
“I can’t close, this is my whole, my whole life is there,” said Claudia Herman, the owner of Divine Hookah Lounge.
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Miami Beach city officials passed a new ordinance for sidewalk cafes on Lincoln Road. Rental fees for the outdoor spaces will now quadruple if these restaurants continue to serve large drinks and hookah.
“Our city and our residents can no longer sustain this hard party that goes on south of Dade Boulevard," said Mayor Dan Gelber.
The move is part of an effort by city leaders to stop crime in the entertainment district and make it safer overall.
“If we want a more sophisticated cultural experience, which is what our city should be offering, we need to get rid of the stuff that generates and attracts the all-night partying that is impossible to sustain. It’s dangerous for our residents and our visitors, and our cops, frankly,” said Mayor Gelber.
In November, they’ll be a vote on whether to roll back last call.
So now, restaurant owners who want to continue renting outdoor space and serving hookah will have to pay thousands more per year.
“If we do it, we‘ll have to increase our prices by 3, 4 times probably and that will affect our business tremendously. We’ll drive all this business to other neighborhoods,” said Ramy Khudir the general manager of Seven Spices.
They say their clientele is not the rowdy kind you see on South Beach.
“This model is the hookah, the drinks, the food and the nice and relaxed environment; that’s why people come to hookah lounges,” said Herman.
The vote to change last call throughout the city, with some exemptions, will be on Nov. 2.