As the Pandemic Rages, the Face of the Gables is Changing
When COVID-19 forced the shutdown of retail and offices in Coral Gables, there were dire predictions of the havoc it would wreak. Some pundits forecast the loss of between 25 and 50 percent of all restaurants and stores. Office space would likewise shrivel as employees worked from home.
Not all of that destruction has taken place, though much damage has been done. And the good news is that numerous businesses are planning to start up or expand, especially as the pandemic wanes. “There is some bad news, and that is sad, because we feel a personal connection to our businesses,” says Francesca Valdes, the city’s retail strategist. “But I have to say there is a healthy interest in the Gables, even in the Open Stage space and the Ortanique space.”
Valdes is referring to the closing of Ortanique on the Mile, the famed shrine to Caribbean cuisine adjacent to the Miracle Theatre, which chef/owner Cindy Hutson closed after a 20-year run. Likewise, Open Stage Club, one of the city’s few venues for music, never reopened after the city lockdown in March. Also closing forever are Shula’s 347 Grill, Miller’s Ale House, Patagonia, California Pizza Kitchen, Navarro Pharmacy, Pier 1 and John Martin’s Irish Pub, though the latter was going to close anyway with the retirement of its owners.
On the bright side, a number of new places opened during the pandemic, with others slated to arrive in coming months. Among eateries opening in the past few months are Portosole, Redfish, Merrick Pizza, La Glace and Mamey (which was written up in the New York Times); at least 10 more restaurants are slated to open this fall. And among new businesses, the THēsis Hotel opened on U.S. 1 and the Forum flex workspace opened on Alhambra; six new storefront businesses are also in line to open, and several firms – including Bank United and insurance broker McGriff – announced plans to move to the downtown.