South Beach restaurant cited for price gouging

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A restaurant on South Beach accused of price gouging is bringing concern for neighboring restaurants and Miami Beach officials as spring break brings tourists from all over the country to South Florida.

The global destination sells itself and promises that tourists can eat, drink and be merry, but Miami Beach commissioner John Elizabeth Alemán said South Beach restaurant Amarillo will not ruin it for the rest of Ocean Drive.

“This is a global destination,” Alemán said. “They’re not expecting to pay bargain basement prices, but they ought to be able to relax, have a good time and not get ripped off.”

She said she is upset over a receipt from the Amarillo restaurant located on Ocean Drive, which shows the customer was charged $619.40 for two ordered food items and a drink.

The issue is that the prices were not listed on the menu, which is a clear violation of a Miami Beach City ordinance. Code enforcement cleared their sidewalk dining area on March 14.

7News tried to speak with a manager at Amarillo, but he had little to say. “I wasn’t here at that time, so I cannot give you any information,” he said.

Shortly after the restaurant was cited, the menu was changed and showed prices for each item, but the prices listed were about half of what was charged from that receipt.

Other area business officials, like Executive Vice President Mike Palma with the Clevelander South Beach Hotel and Bar, said the rules are put in place for a reason. “We’re trying to improve the customer experience from A to Z,” Palma said, “so it is unacceptable, and they know that’s unacceptable.”

Code enforcement also found four other Ocean Drive restaurants without active sidewalk cafe permits.

Even though spring break is in full effect, sources tell 7News that unannounced inspections and possible closures are still to be expected.

Palma is welcoming that news and said he’s planning to help improve the experience at the beach hotspots. “We’re working with the city on actually making the violations and enforcement stiffer and harder to get rid of these rogue operators,” he said.

The Ordinance has made menu prices mandatory and another requiring itemized receipts. “Ocean Drive is beautiful, the beach is beautiful, the park, the buildings, the architecture, the people, it’s all great, but if bad businesses exploit our customers, they won’t come back, and not only that, they’ll spread the word,” Alemán said.

7News reached out to Amarillo a second time about the ordinance issue, but we have not heard back.

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