Restaurant Miami seeking late-night hours

CARAG – Most attendees of a June public hearing about extending Restaurant Miami’s hours to 2 a.m. were supportive of the proposed change.

The controversial new restaurant at 913 W. Lake St. also received support for a proposed sidewalk café at the meeting at Lyndale’s Painter Park, which was run by Minneapolis licensing inspector George Pridmore.

A public hearing to discuss the extension of Restaurant Miami’s hours – currently limited to 11:30 p.m. Sunday_-Thursday and 12:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday – was originally scheduled to take place a couple months from now, after it had been open half a year. Owner Robert Serr requested the early hearing because of a significant drop in business due to Lake Street reconstruction, so it was combined with a city-mandated hearing for the sidewalk café.

"Restaurant Miami’s survival is in your hands," Serr told meeting participants.

He said he has reduced his staff and days of operation recently because of construction and is in danger of going out of business. The new hours would apply to every day he is open, he said.

The restaurant’s existing hours and initial public hearing requirement came after Calhoun Area Residents Action Group (CARAG) board members and others in the neighborhood expressed concerns that the restaurant – introduced as Afterbar and originally planned to close at 4 a.m. – might cause problems, such as noise and crime in the area. The neighborhood group has voted in the past to limit hours of businesses between the Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street and Lyndale Avenue and Lake Street business nodes because of their close proximity to residential property.

"It’s a general problem of a residential neighborhood being located right against a vibrant commercial node," said CARAG board member and zoning committee chairman Aaron Rubenstein.

But few attendees of the June meeting, including Rubenstein, had concerns. Restaurant patrons and neighbors lauded Serr’s business practices, the uniqueness of his 1980s-themed establishment and the behavior of his customers.

A couple meeting participants complained about late-night noise caused by patrons getting in and out of cars near residences, but Serr argued that he provides 35 parking spaces and valet parking.

Less than half of the roughly 50 people at the meeting lived in CARAG, but most of those residents supported the later hours and sidewalk café. Other supporters came from different Minneapolis neighborhoods and suburbs, including Woodbury and Savage.

City Council Member Ralph Remington (10th Ward) attended the meeting and said he planned to recommend that the council’s Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee approve the later hours and sidewalk café. The committee will take up the issue July 11 and forward a recommendation to the full council for its July 20 meeting. If approved, the new changes would be allowed as soon as the mayor signs off on them, which usually happens within a week of a council vote.

Rubenstein said the CARAG zoning committee would also meet this month to make a recommendation, which would go to the full CARAG board and then to the City Council for consideration.

Reach Jake Weyer at 436-4367 or [email protected]