Clevelander in Miami Beach in Court Fight for 5 a.m. Last Call

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The Clevelandic is determined to fight the town hall.

Photo courtesy Clevelander South Beach

There is an old saying that you cannot fight the town hall. But that’s exactly what a longtime South Beach home does.

Last month, as part of a 12-point plan to rename the area the Art Deco Cultural District to combat crime, Miami Beach city commissioners voted to ban alcohol sales from 2am to 5am in the city’s entertainment district.

On May 17, Clevelander’s attorneys filed a lawsuit against the city to allow it to continue selling alcohol and playing music over ambient noise levels between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. The 90-page lawsuit opening volley: “The city has declared war on the famous entertainment district of South Beach.” (The complaint is fully embedded at the end of this article.)

Last Monday, Miami-Dade District Court judge Beatrice Butchko agreed to the Clevelander, stating that the city commission had not voted correctly on the issue.

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Alexander Tachmes, a Cleveland attorney, tells the New Times that the city’s ordinance was improperly enacted at 2 a.m.

“The judge ruled that it should have been treated as a change to the zoning plan and that the 2am withdrawal is not valid,” says Tachmes.

While the judge ruled in favor of the bar association, Tachmes warns that the fight has not yet been won. The next step, he says, is an order for the judge to sign.

Afterward, he expects the City of Miami Beach to appeal to maintain the 2 a.m. curfew and noise ordinance.

“The city will try to freeze the judge’s order and there could be a lot of activity,” predicts Tachmes.

In that case, the Clevelanders will seek an injunction while the lawsuit goes through the legal system. “If we waited 18 months or two years, we would suffer terrible damage,” explains Tachmes.

Tachmes says the Clevelander just strives to stay open until 5am and keep the music volume outside, just like it has for the past 20 years: to be “grandfather”.

“We told the city last summer when we were trying to negotiate with them that there should be a business category of legacy companies that can operate under the old laws,” says the lawyer.

According to its lights, only four shops in the entertainment district would be considered long-established establishments. Although he didn’t name the others, the Palace and Mango’s Tropical Cafe are among those likely to qualify.

Tachmes says the Clevelander’s iconic status could be compromised if it isn’t allowed to stay open until 5 a.m.

“It is known in Europe and the United States as a late-night venue for live outdoor entertainment,” notes the attorney, adding that he and his team are still ready to discuss this with the city for a avoid lengthy litigation.

“We’ll be ready for a meeting tomorrow at 9 a.m.”

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