Miami Beach votes to remove happy hour signs from sidewalk cafes

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Miami Beach commissioners have voted to remove the happy hour and specials signs from sidewalk cafes found throughout the city.

Commissioners said the ordinance, which was passed in Miami Beach City Hall on Wednesday, aims to improve the experience at sidewalk cafes.

Tourists, locals, politicians and advocates have complained for years that the signs next to some of the cafes could be misleading, tacky, dishonest and in the way.

“To limit the clutter on Ocean Drive, to eliminate the specials being advertised that really aren’t specials — listen, to put it bluntly, there are some bad operators, and it’s been a race to the bottom,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said. “You don’t need to hawk. You don’t need to show plastic food to get customers. We’re gonna get rid of all of that. The floor for behavior is going to be much higher. All that behavior has to go away.”

The city said the signs will be removed within two weeks. A new code of conduct is expected to go into effect that will come with more crackdowns on some sidewalk maneuvers of restaurant operators.

However, owners will still be allowed to post their menus outside of their establishments.

John Deutzman, a member of Gelber’s panel on Ocean Drive, is among those lobbying for the change.

“It used to be classy. Now, it’s a carnival,” he said. “Cops get called to this stuff. The basic problem here is false advertising. You can’t advertise a bargain if you don’t get it.”

The feelings are as strong on Yelp, a popular review website. Peeved customers — most of them tourists — were fumed in reviews posted over the last several months about sidewalk cafes in Miami Beach.

“Scammers! Menu is not transparent – happy hour was advertised, but they charged us for each drink,” one review read.

“Misleading 2 for 1 drink advertisements,” a second review read.

“Their specials aren’t real,” a third review read.

“Fraud!!!!!!! Stay away,” another review read.

City officials expect the updated code of conduct to go into effect in the fall.

“Some of the signage up there just isn’t 100% clear,” Miami Beach Commissioner Mark Samuelian said. “Sometimes it says, ‘2 for 1,’ but the customers got charged. Some of our customers come from overseas. They’re not clear on what they’re getting. I’ve heard from the community. I’ve seen it myself that there are some bad operators taking advantage of people. That has got to stop.”

Commissioners are expected to vote on the measure for the second — and possibly final — time in September. Commissioners believe by October, they will have a new code of conduct for sidewalk restaurants and its operators to adhere to across the city.

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