Miami party hotspot closes food and beverage service temporarily amid spring break chaos

The Clevelander South Beach, a Miami institution on Ocean Drive, opted to halt its food and beverage services, closing the doors to its on-site restaurants temporarily amid spring break chaos until Wednesday at least.

“One reason for our prominence and long-standing reputation has been our focus on the safety and well-being of our staff and patrons,” the Clevelander’s management team said in a statement on its website. “Recently, we have grown increasingly concerned with the safety of our dedicated employees and valued customers and the ability of the City to maintain a safe environment in the surrounding area.”

All employees will be paid in full during the period of closing and the Clevelander said it would reevaluate the situation over the coming days.

The hotel remains operational while food and beverage facilities including the Clevelander Kitchen and Bar, Game On and the C-Level Rooftop Terrace will be closed, according to the Miami Herald.

Jan 30, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; A general view of the Clevelander Hotel on South Beach Miami prior to Super Bowl LIV between the San Francisco 49ers at Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo: Jasen Vinlove, Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)

The Clevelander’s decision to close its doors to the public was made after a street fight caused chaos and damage, trashing Social, a restaurant next door to the Clevelander, the Herald reported.

Jessica Francos, vice president of operations for Jesta Hotels, the portfolio of which includes the Clevelander, told the Herald they’ve seen the situation getting out of control — and not just at Social.

“Last weekend there was a stampede very close to us and people spilled onto our property, running inside, into the restaurant, into our kitchen, into our lobby,” Francos said.

Monday, the Herald reported, a man was fatally shot near a residential area tied to a South Beach shooting.

Miami Beach faces influx of spring breakers

Part of the reason for the ruckus, according to Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, is the influx of spring breakers who have flocked to the city with its limited restrictions and sunny beaches.

Because most pandemic restrictions have been lifted in Florida, people are coming with an “anything goes” mentality, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber told USA TODAY on Monday after a weekend of mayhem that kicked off with police in Miami Beach shooting pepper balls to disperse a crowd that had gathered around officers who were making an arrest. 

One of the officers body-slammed James Harrison, 19, as he was being taken into custody, and the crowd became “extremely aggressive towards officers,” according to a copy of the police report. 

An officer fired pepper balls “due to the large, aggressive, unruly crowd and the immediate posing threats to officer safety,” the police report said.

The Miami Beach Police Department made 163 arrests over seven days, spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez told USA TODAY on Monday.

“It’s like a triple threat: We’ve got too many people, too many coming with a desire to go wild and we have the virus,” Gelber said. “It really poses a multifaceted peril for us.”

Miami Beach can’t handle so many people, he added. The city has been shutting down streets as gridlock is occurring.

“I think it might be a little bit related to just people looking to let loose after being pent up, but some people are coming here with sort of an anything-goes mentality and even if it’s just a small percentage … it’s a small percentage of an enormous amount of people,” Gelber said, noting flights to the city have been cheap and room rates are low. 

The city has also implemented “zero tolerance for all of our ordinances,” Gelber said, which means Miami Beach Police are making arrests for having open containers and more.

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