A Night at The Globe is a Unique Gables Experience. Daytime Isn’t Bad Either
By Mike Clary
If it’s Saturday night in Coral Gables, that means jazz is in the house. The house being, in this case, the cozy, Euro café at the end of Alhambra near Le Jeune Road known as The Globe. A Gables landmark since it opened in 1996, the Globe is a jazz institution that has been hosting that sensuous genre of music every Saturday night for more than two decades.
“Jazz is a labor of love,” says owner Danny Guiteras, who opened the restaurant with his wife Lorraine after convincing his family to purchase the building at 377 Alhambra. “It’s not always been easy to make it work, but from day one it was jazz because that’s the music I love the most.”
Right from the start, the Gables native wanted to create a vibe that he describes as “Old New York meets Fin de Siècle Europe,” combining the feeling of eateries in historic Manhattan with the golden era of French culture at the turn of the 19th century. To that end, the building where the Globe resides was transformed. At the time, the 1950s structure was home to two radio stations, WVCG “The Voice of Coral Gables” and Hot 105, as well as a bank. The new owners stripped the structure to its bare bones, and recreated it as a Mediterranean-style building with coral columns and a stone-trimmed pediment on top, framing a globe. Over the stone-arch entrance the words The Globe were set in red neon; at night, it still casts an otherworldly glow on the dark street.
Inside, The Globe has antique wooden floors, chandeliers that hang from painted ceiling medallions, a long, mahogany bar with a dozen vintage globes atop its gleaming shelves, and huge paintings on every wall. These are copies of Renaissance era masterworks, mostly of mythological characters – Jupiter in the form of an eagle, Calypso on the rocks, the Nymphs bathing – but anchored by two paintings that have been there from the start: A copy of “Sleeping Venus,” a large, reclining nude by Italian Renaissance painter Giorgione, and one of a stately gentleman dressed in blue.
“People think it’s a portrait of Shakespeare, but it’s actually a painting by Titian called ‘A Man With a Quilted Sleeve,’” says Guiteras. “He is our mascot. We can never take it down.”
All of this décor gives The Globe a remarkably European atmosphere, as though you could be sitting in a café in Belgium. It’s one of the reasons The Globe is a popular lunch and dinner spot – along with its menu of reasonably priced dishes that have been honed over the years. Most of the cuisine comes under the category of comfort food, with pastas, sandwiches, soups and well-designed salads (where else can you get a Waldorf Chicken Salad these days?), but peppered with “Globe Classics” like Newcastle Ale Fish & Chips and Grilled Argentine Steak Frites.
Usually the audience for jazz in Miami tends to skew older, but the crowd at The Globe covered all age ranges. They were there for the music, but also for the place itself. We sat in a corner, in a space wrapped by a flight of red carpeted stairs, winding around what had been the old elevator shaft. The stairs look like they lead to upstairs hotel rooms in a Parisian pension, but instead bring you to Lorraine Travel, one of the oldest travel agencies in the city. This was, and remains, the family business, where Guiteras worked with his siblings when he returned home to Coral Gables after going to college in New York. The agency was founded by his father after leaving Cuba in the 1960s, and though he passed away a few years ago, the family, with his brother Greg at the helm, still operates the business.
We visited The Globe for its music, however, and discovered what regulars know: There is no better place to hear jazz on a Saturday night anywhere in Miami, let alone Coral Gables. On the night we came, saxophonist David Fernandez was playing, along with a trio of piano, bass, and drums. During the second set a trumpet player spontaneously joined the band.
It was while working at Lorraine Travel that Guiteras conceived the idea of launching The Globe. Having gone to the New School for Social Research in Manhattan, he was enamored of clubs like The Odeon and Nells. “I came home to Coral Gables for my breaks, and there was nothing here. Then I discovered John Martin’s, out of the blue, this Irish pub. And I became quite a regular there, very friendly with Martin and John.”
It was here that he met his wife Lorraine (a pure coincidence with the name of the family travel business), who was working at the pub. “Back then they would hire girls from Ireland on visas, and one night the bartender Kurt leans over and says, ‘Did you see the new crop of recruits?’ And I look over and there is Lorraine.” Together they dreamed of creating their own Gables bar and restaurant, which led to buying the Globe building. “After my spark at Martin’s it took me about three years of lobbying my dad, but he finally caved and bought this building. Prior to that we were on Le Jeune and before that on Giralda, in the space where La Dorada is now.”
“Our agreement was, you build it, and I’ll run it,” says Lorraine. “It was a bad deal for me!” she laughs. But it turned out that Lorraine had a deft sense of management, and for a decade starting in the late 1990s, The Globe became one of the most popular places in town. On any given Wednesday, Thursday or Friday night, happy hour revelers spilled into the street, requiring off-duty police to manage the crowd.
“Those were incredible days,” says Guiteras. “We are still doing well, but back then there was no South Beach, no Brickell, no Midtown, no Wynwood. Coral Gables was the place to be. It still is, but things have evolved.” Not only is there more competition from other parts of the city, but eating patterns have changed. “Millennials aren’t eating out as much, and the two-martini lunch is long gone.” Nonetheless, says Guiteras. “Our bread and butter is the executive who has a little more time for lunch, and dinner is good. But more and more we rely on meetings, wedding and parties that Lorraine books.” Inside The Globe is a private space, The Black Room, with its own bar that can seat 65 for dinner.
On a given Saturday night, you might hear the faint sound of merrymaking when a Black Room party is in full swing. But that evaporates when the band begins to play, and you realize there is no better place to be if you love that uniquely American form of music we call jazz.