THE DECK AT ISLAND GARDENS WAS A PIG STY PASSING ITSELF OFF AS A HIGH-CLASS RESTAURANT, WHICH IN MIAMI WAS GOOD ENOUGH TO GET RAVE REVIEWS BY THE LOCAL PRESS AND CARD BLANCHE TO OPERATE ILLEGALLY FROM THE REGALADO ADMINISTRATION
THE EASE WITH WHICH THIS RESTAURANT MANAGED TO OPERATE ILLEGALLY FOR A FULL YEAR WITHOUT PERMITS, LICENSES OR INSPECTIONS REVEALS A LEVEL OF CORRUPTION IN MIAMI THAT IS SO BAD THAT YOU HAVE TO WONDER HOW MANY PEOPLE PARTICIPATED IN TURNING THEIR BACKS TO ALLOW THIS ILLEGAL OPERATION TO GO ON AS LONG AS IT DID
MAY 18, 2017
Even though the continued ability of this restaurant to flagrantly operate with significant code violations, it now seems that at least one Crespogram reader during this period of time contacted the State of Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation's Division of Hotels and Restaurants, providing them with enough information to cause a 2 person team of inspectors to visit the restaurant on March 29th.
After a top to bottom inspection of the premises, the inspectors at 5:00 PM, issued an immediate order to shut down the restaurant.
Nor was this the only event promoted and hosted by the restaurant in the days following my story
On March 15th, I wrote a story about the restaurant The Deck At Island Gardens that included a 2 page Review of inspections done by the city's building department, fire marshal, and code enforcement detailing a list of serious violations that had been discovered by city inspectors almost a year after this open-air restaurant and bar was opened by the developer of the long delayed Island Gardens resort and marina project. The ability to open this restaurant was based on the use of a questionnable Temporary Use of Vacant Land Permit issued by the city. The permit dated March 23, 2016, had an expiration date of September 23, 2016.
In late January of 2017, almost 4 months to the day after the Temporary Use permit should have expired, city inspectors showed up at the restaurant in force, after an anonymous source started notifying members of the City Commission about the illegal operation of this restaurant and bar.
The available records did not indicate that anyone from the City of Miami - other than the Mayor, who showed up for a free meal and a photo op - ever visited the restaurant and bar anytime after March 23, 2016 until the inspectors showed up in late January of 2017.
It was those inspections that led to the document that I published as part of my March 15th story, revealing that there were a number of outstanding violations that would have, under normal circumstances, stopped this restaurant and bar from being allowed to reopen without full compliance..
But, we're talking about the City of Miami here, where this was not the first restaurant allowed operate with impunity, but where the day after I posted my story documenting the uncorrected building and code violations, the restaurant not only opened back up for business, but hosted a gala fundraiser that evening.
The decision to shut the restaurant down was not just based on the portions of the above letter underlined in bold, it was also based on the 4 pages of the 57 individual violations including health, food and cooking violations that were uncovered during the inspection.
Violations in some cases so gross that they would have given WPLG, Channel's 10's Jeff Weinsier, multiple orgasms had he gotten a copy of this report and showed up to do one of his Dirty Dining stories.
Approximately 4 hours after the restaurant manager received the above list of violations that shut the restaurant and bar down, Nathalie Goulet, the attorney for the developer, Flagstone Property Group, sent Mayor Tomas Regalado's Chief of Staff the following email.
This in turn was followed by the invitation sent out to all of the usual suspects who were expected to pony up the donations which are part of the overall money transfers required to keep the wheels of corruption well oiled.
Within days after my story revealing the email about the fundraiser, the decision was made to postpone it to sometime later this summer.
THE FLAGSTONE GROUP CONTINUES TO SCREW THE POOCH
In his story last week about the effort by City Commissioner Ken Russell to use a pocket item as a way to initiate a discussion on whether the Flagstone Group had complied with their contractual requirement to "start construction" by May 1st, David Smiley of the Miami Herald stated that Flagstone lobbyist Brian May - AKA Count Dracula - had claimed that the problems with the restaurant were "due to a misunderstanding," although with whom the misunderstanding took place, or what the misunderstanding was about were not explained in Smiley's article.
The one thing that does seem to have been explained in pretty convincing detail on the restaurant's Facebook page is that Mehmet Bayraktar, the developer, along with several members of his family used this illegal restaurant as both a marketing tool and asan opportunity to play the role of party hosts.
All of this was only made possible by the fact that Mehmet Bayraktar had, with the aid and assistance of both elected officials and city employees been screwing the taxpayers of Miami in one way or another since 2001.
This latest restaurant hustle, only made possible through backroom arrangements that allowed a mobile kitchen and a couple porta-potties, set dressed to look like a movie set in order to pass itself off as a high-class waterfront restaurant was a perfect metaphor for everything fake about Miami.
That it took state inspectors to finally catch them out only underscores the obvious failure of the City of Miami to demonstrate even the most basic degree of interest of concern about the operation of illegal establishments within the city limits, especially when you've got a Mayor whose all too willing to show up for a free meal and a photo op.
And now, while the restaurant remains shuttered, the continuing battle over whether the Flagstone Group is once again screwing the taxpayers with the aid and assistance of city employees has taken on a familiar .
As described by Davis Smiley the question is whether or not, after all of these years, and all of the contract extensions the Flagstone Group failed to meet the May 1st requirement finalizing all of the outstanding contract and permit issues needed to begin construction on the resort.
The city's Assistant Director of Asset Management, Aldo Bustamante was quick to deny that the Flagstone Group was in default by claiming that, "The City does not believe they are in default of any of the lease requirements at this time."
Of course, this is same Asset Management Department that required an exchange of 22 emails over a 2 year period of time to sort out the realization that the City of Miami was paying a portion of the Flagstone Group's electric bill on Watson Island.
As I headlined my story about this fiasco, MONKEYS COULD DO A BETTER JOB OF LOOKING OUT FOR MIAMI'S TAXPAYERS.
It should be both easy to establish whether the Flagstone Group has indeed complied with ALL of the contractual and permit requirements, and at the same time determine based on that finding whether their contract should be allowed to go forward or be cancelled.
At least that's an assumption that could be made if the City of Miami was dealing from the top of the deck.
Unfortunately, the example of how this restaurant was allowed to operate for a year with flagrant disregard for licenses or permits tell you that the City of Miami does not deal from the top of the deck, or sometimes even from the bottom of the deck.
Because, it's Miami, Bitches!