Posted September 23, 2013
By MIKAYLA VIELOT
CORAL GABLES, Fla – Summer in Miami is all about “fun-in-the-sun.” Warm temperatures, frozen drinks, laying on the beach and the fast-paced nightlife all come to mind. While, for the most part that may be true, Miami has many hidden gems and attractions that are fairly inexpensive.
“I’m a college student and I work in a restaurant. Over the summer, all I want to do is go to the beach and go out with my friends but I have to work to support myself,” Alexandra Derr said. “I make my money based on tips and the summer is so slow that I had to get creative.”
Derr is not alone. Many people do not want to spend a lot of money over the summer but want to have a good time.
As a melting pot for various cultures and ethnicities, South Florida has an abundance of restaurants featuring different cuisines. There are so many restaurants to choose from it is hard to decide which to try.
“With school, my life can be very routine so this summer I promised myself I would try something different,” she said. “So every other week my friend and I tried a different restaurant’s Miami Spice menu.”
Miami Spice is an annual event that takes place throughout August and September. A pre-fixed menu including an appetizer, entrée and dessert is offered for either $19 or $23 for lunch and $33 or $39 for dinner. The price varies depending on whether the restaurant is considered “fine dining” or “luxury dining”.
“Miami Spice helps promote business during the slow season,” Juan Barretta, a manager at Rosa Mexicano in Brickell said. “The economy is much better than a few years ago so it is bringing more people to restaurants.”
The special offer provides an opportunity for locals to try out a restaurant they had heard exceptional reviews about but never got a chance to try. It allows tourists to save money when visiting an expensive city. It even keeps money in servers’ pockets.
Janell Barnes is a senior at the University of Miami who lives in the Coral Gables area. Like many other college students, she makes easy money waiting tables.
Crave is located just a few blocks away from the university in Merrick Park, very well known for its shops and numerous dining options. The shopping area has something for everyone between students and families. With increasing popularity, Crave specializes in American cuisine with a sushi bar packed with flavor, and offers a chic atmosphere.
Crave was new to the area last year, so many diners flocked to it, in addition to the Miami Spice special. This year however, Barnes believes the new menu options attract guests on their own.
“More than half of my guests choose from the Miami Spice menu,” she said. “I see it offered at so many restaurants. It’s a great deal.”
Co-worker Alex Smith, also welcomes the Miami Spice menu.
“The summer is very slow in Miami, so Miami Spice keeps the business going. It is very popular during the week compared to over the weekend when people are prepared to spend more money,” he said.
With the summer winding down and Miami Spice ending on Sept. 30, restaurants only have a few more weeks to draw in new guests with hopes they will return in the fall.
“Miami Spice is a great opportunity to make a really good impression on people and encourage them to come back,” Barretta said. “But it’s not only about food. It is about how the guest feels in our home. That is the key to making people come back.”
If You Go
Village of Merrick Park
4250 Salzedo St., Ste. 1425
Coral Gables, FL 33146
Valet and street parking: Crave offers indoor and outdoor seating. It is perfect for groups and offers a private dining area. Whether a girls’ night out or Sunday brunch with the family, there is something for everyone.
Other Coral Gables Miami Spice Participants:
Red Koi Thai and Sushi Lounge
317 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, Fla. 33134
318 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables, Fla. 33134
2500 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Coral Gables, Fla. 33134
321 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, Fla. 33134