Summer Talk of the Town

Tasting the Gables, Paist Memorabilia, and More

Ryder Moves to Town

Ryder is becoming a Gableite! The global leader in supply chain, dedicated transportation, and fleet management solutions has announced its new headquarters will be located at the Colonnade building in downtown Coral Gables. Ryder was initially founded in Miami back in 1933 and sold their Medley-based HQ in March.

The firm will be officially moved in by early 2024. The building will be marked with the company’s logo and renamed Ryder Colonnade, with two entire floors devoted to the business. The office will be home to about 800 South Florida-based employees and include a customer innovation center, which will showcase Ryder’s technological prowess in the industry.

Summer Talk of the Town

Taste the Gables

Each year in August and September, Miami Spice brings to the table hundreds of area restaurants with reasonably priced fixed menus, hoping to lure new customers. This year, with the help of Miami New Times, the city of Coral Gables is jumping the gun with its own Taste the Gables. For the month of July, more than 40 restaurants in the Gables will offer three course menus for lunch ($30 to $35) and/or dinner ($45 to $60), hoping to attract more visitors from outside the city. As part of Taste month, there will also be weekly concerts on Giralda Plaza every Friday from 8 to 10 pm, featuring bands like Los Wizzards and Suénalo. To see a full list of participating restaurants and performers, plus additional activations, scan the QR code below.

Young Talent, Big Dreams

Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre has announced this year’s winners of the Young Talent Big Dreams competition, a free local youth talent contest with categories in vocals, spoken word, composition, dance, and more. After several rounds of competition, some in front of live audiences, the finals were held in mid-May with student performers from Miami-Dade County, ages eight to 17, competing their hearts out for the grand prize: $500 in cash, four tickets to Universal Orlando, and a hotel stay for two nights. Other prizes included cash, master classes with industry professionals, and performing arts scholarships.

Winners Nicole Becker and Emma Van Assche

Hundreds of hopefuls applied, with winners in nine categories, but only two took home the Overall Grand Prize: Nicole Becker, 14, from Miami Arts Studio 6-12 @ Zelda Glazer, and Emma Van Assche, 13, from International Studies Charter School. “Actors’ Playhouse is proud to be part of nurturing young performers so that they can continue to soar in their experiences,” said Executive Producing Director Barbara Stein.

Hurray for Merrick

In June, the Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables commemorated the third annual “Founder’s Day” in recognition of city father George Merrick’s birthday and legacy. Two years ago, the city issued a proclamation to mark the 135th anniversary of his birth and last year officially recognized June 3 as “Founders Day” in Coral Gables.

This year’s ceremony was a champagne reception held at the newly restored H. George Fink Studio, a hallmark of Mediterranean Revival architecture, which the city bought in 2016. Architect Ana Alvarez and her team at Martinez Alvarez Architects, along with conservator Caroline Dickensheets of RLA Conservation, discussed the restoration — which won the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art (Florida Chapter) 2022 Addison Mizner Award for Historic Preservation. Economic Development Director Belkys Perez, Vice Mayor Rhonda Anderson, and former Mayor Dorothy Thomson were in attendance.

Another Alien Species

Summer Talk of the Town

It started, says Vice Mayor Rhonda Anderson, with the Garden Club’s project to restore the original canopy of Camp Mahachee, the girl scout enclave off Old Cutler Road. Several acres of native plant life had been destroyed by air potatoes, a fast-growing vine that is toxic for humans and kills the plants (including trees) they envelop.

“I saw that it was air potato vines covering the canopy and suffocating it, and that it was a problem throughout Miami-Dade County,” says Anderson, one of many volunteers who helped clear the site starting last fall. Anderson also learned that other cities, such as Gainesville, have held contests to encourage residents to remove the vines. “And they eradicated them,” she says.

So, Anderson used her Commission expense funds to reward anyone who would bring in uprooted potato plants. “I thought it was a good project for kids,” she says, paying $10 per pound, with a limit of 25 pounds per collector. The trick is that the potato bulb must be dug up, or it will keep regrowing. “You have to pull that ugly thing out of the ground,” says Anderson.

In addition to the spud rewards, Anderson is offering a $10 gift certificate for Books & Books to any kid who also brings a parental note saying they’ve read a book. Just drag your bag to City Hall and one of the commission aides will weigh and pay. Go to potatoes for more information. The vines can be found all over the Gables, on Banyan Drive, Sevilla Avenue, Bird Road, etc. Once you see them in one place….

As It Was Meant to be Seen

Summer Talk of the Town

Ask Brenda Moe, executive director of the Coral Gables Art Cinema, why 70mm films look so good on screen and she won’t hesitate. “70mm film projects movies onto a big screen using a film print that is 70mm wide, which is about twice the size of regular 35mm film. This wider film format allows for a much greater amount of detail and image quality,” she says, “resulting in a more immersive and visually stunning cinematic experience.”

70mm Film Prints

Most movie houses today don’t even use 35mm, but digital projectors, which are even less sharp. The good news is that the Art Cinema is equipped to screen 70mm films, the only such movie house in the Southeastern U.S. In the past, they have used the gear to show films like “2001, A Space Odyssey,” “Dunkirk,” and “West Side Story.” This summer (starting July 21) they will show the new Christopher Nolan feature “Oppenheimer” for three weeks in 70mm.

“The difficulty is that it takes lots of muscle on reel-to-reel systems. The projectionist is loading and unloading and threading all the reels.” But the result, including better sound, is worth it, says Moe.

Expect additional titles this fall.

Looking for a Savior of History

For those familiar with the architectural patrimony of Coral Gables, the name Phineas Paist is sacred. The projects he designed include Douglas Entrance (1924), Venetian Pool (1925), the Colonnade Building (1926), and Coral Gables City Hall (1928). Another building he designed, the Coral Gables Police and Fire Station (1939), is now the Coral Gables Museum, which, ironically, is searching for a way to preserve a collection of 700 Paist artifacts.

The collection is owned by Tampa resident Michael Turbeville, a retired antique dealer and collector of anything tobacco-related. Years ago, he purchased a cigar box painted by Paist, which set him off collecting other works by the architect, who was also a painter. Turbeville eventually bought Paist’s entire estate from the architect’s son. In 2006, Turbeville offered the collection to Coral Gables for $1 million. At the time, the city did not have a museum (it opened in 2010) and politely declined. Now, Turbeville is again offering it to the city for $1.5 million.

“He purchased the entire estate, including not only drawings, watercolors, and small paintings, but important documents, family photos, and letters to George Merrick and “Doc” Dammers, some of the most important people in the story of Coral Gables,” says Elvis Fuentes, executive director of the Coral Gables Museum. “For us, the collection is priceless… Of course, $1.5 million out of the blue from the city budget is not possible.”

Even if the city decides to buy, the process will take time – and that’s the concern. “[Turbeville] says he is getting offers to sell piece by piece, and that would be a shame, so time is off the essence,” says Fuentes. One suggestion is a crowdfunding campaign. “What we really need is for a donor to step forward, someone who understands the importance of this for the DNA of the city,” he says. In the meantime, the museum is planning a Paist retrospective in August. Turbeville declined to loan any of his collection for the event.