Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado with Chef Alfredo Alvarez, In one of those Miami coincidences, Alvarez was the Chef at Sea Salt and Pepper in 2014, when they opened using Special Event permits, because of their own license and inspection problems.
Normally, when someone wants to open a business - say a restaurant/ bar - they'd start by incorporating a company for the new venture, then either renting a space, or perhaps building their own space, get through the construction and/or remodeling process, followed by getting an Occupational License and a Business Tax Receipt License (BTR) - which back in the day used to be called a business license - and then because it was a bar/restaurant, they'd need to get a liquor license and a health certificate and then they could open for business.
In the case of this restaurant, this is what seems to have happened based on documents and discussions that I've had with folks off the record, because nobody wants to go on the record.
The reason that The Deck At Island Gardens on Watson Island wasn't listed as a corporation when I first went looking is because instead of incorporating the restaurant/bar as a stand alone business, the developers of Island Gardens/Flagstone LLC didn't incorporate the name, they trademarked the name.
Here is a copy of the application.
IS THE RESTAURANT AT ISLAND GARDENS MARINA THE LATEST EXAMPLE OF SCREWING THE POOCH IN REGALDOLAND
SO, INQUIRING MINDS ASKED, HEY CRESPO, HOW DID THESE PEOPLE PULL THIS DEAL OFF. GLAD YOU ASKED
MARCH 9, 2017
It seems that what happened is that somewhere along the way in one of the warrants that the city gave to the developer as they reconfigured the master plan they inserted language allowing for a "catering/ promotion deck" - deck being the operative word - and then it appears that by trademarking the name, that figured that that allowed them enough legal cover to shield it from scrutiny under the corporate name of Island Gardens/Flagstone LLC, and in that way they could shield the restaurant/bar from having to go through any of the application processes that a stand alone business would be required to go through.
In January of 2016, the city gave the developer a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy to operate the Marina, and it's under this TCO that they opened the restaurant/ bar shortly thereafter, which means that both the marina and the restaurant/bar were built at the same time. This was not an afterthought.
In doing so it appears that they used construction of the marina as a way bypassed having to get separate permits, a certificate of occupancy and a BTR for the restaurant, and then for good measure, they evaded having to get a liquor license for the property because they claimed that because they have themed nights and use party promoters to generate customers, they really aren't a restaurant/bar, even though they call themselves one, but instead they are an event space, and to further remove themselves from paperwork they supposedly are piggy backing off of someone's catering license, although I've not yet been able to get that name.
In addition, because the Temporary Certificate of Occupancy is for the Marina, which is only part of that entire development, this TCO could not only be used for this restaurant/bar, but also for any other stand along business that they might want to put on the property using the same procedure, and they could continue to operate in this way for years while the resort, retail and other parts of the project get built.
This is also why there is no permanent water and sewer hookup on the property.
Here's the really interesting part about all of this: if you go out to Watson Island and look at the way that the developer has fenced off the area surrounding the restaurant, and then look at the other areas that have been set aside for parking, you'll see that there isn't very much land currently available for construction.
Keep in mind that the whole process was predicated on the claim that the developer would start with the marina and follow up with construction of the resort and other parts of this project.
The Marina was completed in January of 2016, and this is now March of 2017, and there clearly hasn't been any construction started anywhere else on the property.
That's the real story here, because after more than a decade when the developer didn't do anything with the property, and then after all the controversy and lawsuits erupted over this failure, everyone was led to believe that once the developer started work on the marina, that when that was completed he would turn around and start work on the resort.
Thirteen months after the marina opened, instead of moving forward on construction of the resort, the only thing that the developer has done is plop a restaurant/ bar on the property, and done it in a way that would be hard for you or I to replicate if we tried to do it anywhere else.
The big question, which no one seemed to have an answer for is how many more months, or years will pass - if ever - before the developer starts construction on the resort, or has this now become a marina/restaurant/bar operating on prime Miami waterfront property without a final certificate of occupancy, permeant water and sewer hookups, and without a real liquor license attached to the restaurant/bar?
You know these questions mean only one thing,
It's Miami, Bitches!