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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Today's sunrise

Today's sunrise in Coconut Grove. You can see a few more photos and moving image of the sunrise over the bay at our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/coconutgrovegrapevine/

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Craft Spirits Fest week starts this week

The Craft Spirits Fest (CSF), the original exhibition of artisanal, boutique, craft, premium, small-batch spirits and cocktails returns for its fourth year from September 27 through  October 6, 2016. The CSF showcases spirit producers, bartenders and beverage industry leaders who are influencing today’s resurgent craft spirits and craft cocktail movement.  While the ten-day celebration will peak with the Grand Tasting at the Cruz Building in Coconut Grove, the preceding days are packed with many events.  Here’s a look at what's on tap for the week:

Tuesday, September 27
Rock, Smoke & Barrel kicks off the week of events at Prime Cigar Brickell (1100 SW S. Miami Ave.) from 8-11 pm. Rock music will be playing while you enjoy cigars and fine whiskey. Meet Jonathan Drew, Founder of Drew Estate Cigars and John Drew Spirits. Enjoy Drew Estate cigars, a welcome cocktail and preview samplings of John Drew Rye - a 100% Canadian Rye aged 4 years in toasted oak barrels.  Light bites provided all night.  Availability is very limited.  Contact Prime Cigar Brickell at 786-522-2220 or info@primecigar.com

Wednesday, September 28
The 3rd Annual Women, Whiskey & Wieners at The Mighty (2224 Coral Way) happens from 6-9 pm. This Ultimate Whiskey Wednesday will benefit the beloved industry pro Cesar Diaz’s family (his wife lost her battle to breast cancer this year) in honor of the upcoming Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Featuring the finest women in the spirits industry representing:  High West Distillery, Michter’s American Whiskey, Tullamore DEW Irish Whiskey, Concrete Beach Brewery and more. Whiskey specials all night long,  whiskey cocktails and house-made wieners. Open to the public.

Saturday, October 1
WallBrawl and El Jimador Tequila will team up at the Surfcomber (1717 Collins Ave.) for an amazing night of “live art competition” and tequila cocktails. Vote for your favorite artists and watch “Art Happen”. Open to the public. Details at Wall-Brawl.com

Monday, October 3
The festivities continue with the BareKnuckle Bartender presented by Casa Noble Tequila at Copper 29 (206 Miracle Mile) at 8pm.   Top bartenders will compete to make their best cocktails to earn the coveted title of Craft Spirits Fest’s BareKnuckle Bartender Champ.  Free punch will be served and this event is open to the public.

Thursday, October 6
The Grand Tasting is the Craft Spirits Fest's main event, and it’s happening from 7:30  to 10:30 pm at the Cruz Building (3157 Commodore Plaza) in Coconut Grove.  This event brings together 30+ spirit producers from across the country/world for a comprehensive, large-scale tasting event.  Over 120+ different Spirits and Cocktails will be available to sample.  At bars throughout the building, Miami’s best bartenders from the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild will serve amazing craft cocktails.  Special guest Joaquin Simo from Pouring Ribbons New York - Tales of the Cocktail American Bartender of the Year 2012,  will be joined by local bartenders to bring a little New York cocktail flavor to Miami.  Brown-Forman and William Grant are both presenting amazing bar experiences featuring their spirits on the 2nd and 3rd floor bars.  Pair a cocktail with free food samples from local restaurants and top it off with Relentless Roaster’s Coffee on our terrace.  Tickets for Grand Tasting are $75 and are extremely limited.  

Tickets available at:  CraftSpiritsFest.MixStir.com

Friday, October 6-7
Any great Party needs a great “After Party”.   After imbibing all those great spirits; nothing is better than a nice cold brew.   The CSF Beer Chaser After Party starts at 10pm and will continue until 2am at Taurus: Beer & Whisk(e)y House (3524 Main Hwy)  Attendees of the Grand Tasting receive a complimentary brew plus other food and drink specials throughout the night!

For more information of the Craft Spirits Fest Week of events and for tickets please visit CraftSpiritsFest.com

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Stop by Sonesta for free ice cream on Saturday

Saturday, September 24 is National Ice Cream Day and you can get free ice cream at the Sonesta Hotel from 12:30 to 1:30 pm.

Celebrity Scoopers, Erika del Sordo from WSVN and Roberto Suarez from Telemundo 51 will be celebrating with hotel guests and locals in the lobby of the hotel by handing out free ice cream.

The purpose is just to have a fun. You'll receive a cup of vanilla ice cream and you can add your own toppings.

Stop by at 2889 McFarlane and enjoy!

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Grovite wins Design in Excellence Award

Grovite Kathy Kesler, president of Interspace Design Group in Miami, has won another Design in Excellence Award from the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) SFC.  Kathy received the award in the Hospitality category for her design of The Claremont Hotel in Miami Beach, shown here. 

The competition was open to any project in any city designed by a South Florida design professional. Judging criteria included design merit in scale and proportion, color composition, innovation, creative and functional use of space, effective use of lighting, appropriate solution of the design concept, and relationship of materials, textures and patterns.


Kathy Kesler
“I am so honored to receive this prestigious award. The South Beach Art Deco Historic Hotels are so unique that it was very challenging to fit all requirements of the hotel brand and current-day guest preferences within a small footprint,” says Kathy.“This was accomplished by creating efficient space planning as well as extensive millwork and furnishing designs that maximized function and aesthetics.”

Interspace Design is committed to providing comprehensive and cost-effective design services to both the hospitality industry and select residential clients, including new construction, renovation and progressive design solutions.  In the last three years, Interspace Design has completed 29 major interior design projects nationwide, ranking it as one of the top-performing design studios. 

Clientele include Hilton, Intercontinental, Westin, DoubleTree, Radisson, Embassy Suites, Sheraton, and Starwood's upscale properties known as The Luxury Collection and St. Regis Hotels. 

Kesler is NCIDQ-certified, licensed and a professional member of ASID.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Battersea Woods re-platting denied by Commission

A number of residents stood up before the City Commission on Thursday during the Public Comment Period and the consensus is that most Grovites feel that the NCD3 (Neighborhood Conservation District) laws are not being enforced which is destroying the character of Coconut Grove. PH.3 is the plat for Battersea Woods.

The property is at  4384 Ingraham Highway. The one acre property is in danger of being split up to allow five large houses, destroying the tree canopy in its wake. Construction has already begun, we pointed out this mess of a property in April.


"Immoral" and "greed" were words used often to describe the developers, Palmcorp Development Group, who are said to be skirting the law.

"We, the voting public only ask that our laws are unforced." said one resident.

Many felt that City Attorney, Victoria Mendez, one individual, took the law into her own hands when it came to the Battersea property. She ignored advice given to her by many in order to accommodate the developer.

Why is the city ignoring it's own code to appease developers was asked by many.

The young lady who was being evicted, stepped up and spoke at the Commission meeting. Again, she started putting down the neighbors who are against new development. She didn't understand why people are fighting the new development since it raises property values in the area. She then claimed that it brings property values up so much that it has forced her out. So I am not quite sure what her reasoning is for being condescending to the neighbors, as development has affected her, too. It's all about quality of life. 

"Developing with a conscience," is how one lady put it. One man said that the City Commissioners need to start listening to the tax payers who elected them and pay their salaries.

Carlos Sosa, of Palmcorp Development Group, from Coral Gables, one of the developers of the Battersea Wood project spoke. He said that they had gone through all the laws and have gone through many obstacles. It's interesting that he is not trying this in his own hometown of Coral Gables, but here in Coconut Grove.  He claims that they are seasoned developers and have not used loop holes to conduct business. 

Paul Figg, the attorney for Palmcorp spoke. He says the warrant process does not apply. He says Miami21 does apply. He claims it is all legal. He says that all of the neighbors live on platted land that was not platted to begin with. And now the Commission should vote for the approval of the Battersea property expansion.

Our District 2 Commissioner Ken Russell, made a motion that the plat additions be denied for the Battersea Woods property. He moved that the plat be denied because it did not go through the warrant process and neighbors did not have a chance to appeal the development. Of 13 cases in the Grove now that have lot splitting going on, Ken's office did an investigation and they found that all 13 were not done properly and the properties bypassed the system and are being built illegally. Once concrete is poured, the error cannot be rectified according to local laws.

It's too late for six, the remaining seven will be dealt with.

In the end, the motion passed 5-0. the Battersea Woods property re-platting was denied. A win for the neighbors. For now.

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SCBWI meeting at The Bookstore

The Grovey Coconut Grove/Miami Children's SCBWI Critique Group meets on Tuesday, October 4 from 6 to 8 pm at The Bookstore in the Grove.

Please bring notebook and pen with you. Also please bring copies of your work to share. This meeting is open to both children book writers and illustrators.

SCBWI is the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, an international organization. The non-profit founded in 1971 not only supports children's books but also writing for magazines, film, television and multimedia. It's a network for the exchange of ideas between writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, agents, book sellers and even librarians. There are over 22,000 members worldwide.

Please RSVP here, so we can tell everyone how many copies need to print out to share.

The Bookstore is located at Mary Street and Florida Avenue.

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Centennial Gala celebrates Vizcaya's 100th birthday

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is gearing up to celebrate its centennial, kicking off a year of festivities with the Vizcaya Centennial Gala on Saturday, November 19, from 7:00 pm to midnight. This fundraising event supports the preservation and protection of the estate and is the kick off of many activities over the coming year that will celebrate Vizcaya's anniversary.

"The centennial will focus on Vizcaya's role as a community asset. Vizcaya is both an accredited museum and National Historic Landmark. The anniversary year will provide opportunities for students, families and visitors to engage with history, experience art and discover nature at this beautiful bayfront estate," says Joel Hoffman, Vizcaya's Executive Director.

Vizcaya was originally the winter home of agricultural industrialist James Deering. Conceiving, designing and building Vizcaya was a massive project that employed approximately 1,000 workers-a full 10 percent of Miami's population at the time. Vizcaya was inaugurated on Christmas Day, 1916 with an Italian-themed party. The Vizcaya Centennial Gala pays homage to that event.

"Just as James Deering celebrated with a grand party in 1916 when he first moved into his home, we too are celebrating with our very special Centennial Gala," says Christina Martin, co-chair of Vizcaya's Centennial Gala committee. "From elegant cocktails to dancing under the starts to a spectacular fireworks display, we will be celebrating Vizcaya and its important role as part of our community for the past century."

Vizcaya's Centennial Gala will begin with a red carpet at the entrance of the beautiful Gilded Age estate, leading into the gardens and Courtyard for cocktails. The evening will continue with an elegant outdoor dinner overlooking Biscayne Bay. The University of Miami's Frost School of Music will entertain guests throughout the evening with a broad repertoire of music performed by numerous ensembles and the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra. Additional entertainment will be provided by the Valerie Tyson Band.

A silent auction will include voyages with Azamara Club Cruises to any of their worldwide ports, a Lakini Tour to Peru and many other items including exquisite jewelry from Yvel. Dinner, dancing and the auction will be followed by a fireworks display above Vizcaya's Barge.

To become a sponsor or purchase tickets or a table for Vizcaya's Centennial Gala, please visit vizcayagala.org. To learn more about Vizcaya and events during the anniversary year visit vizcaya.org

Vizcaya features a Main House, a collection of art and design, furnishings and sculpture; 10 acres of formal gardens; a rockland hammock (native forest); a mangrove shoreline; the Vizcaya Café and Shop presented by A Joy Wallace Catering, Design and Special Events; and a historic village with buildings, grounds and gardens that is undergoing restoration. Located  at 3251 South Miami Avenue, Vizcaya is open daily from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm except Tuesdays, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. For more information, visit vizcaya.org, call 305-250-9133, or email vizcayainformation@vizcaya.org.

Photo courtesy Vizcaya and World Redeye.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Luther Campbell is guest speaker at Grove Rotary

Luther Campbell
courtesy Rolling Stone
Two Live Crew's Luther Campbell will be nasty as he wants to be on Thursday, September 22 as guest speaker at the Coconut Grove Rotary luncheon. Luther was also mayoral candidate for the Miami-Dade County Mayor in 2011.

The cost for lunch is $20. 

Please join in for what will be an very interesting discussion. 

To RSVP to coconutgroverotaryclub@gmail.com

The luncheon is at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club, 2990 S. Bayshore Drive. It starts at 12:15 pm.

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Making a difference

That meeting last week at the Village Council was haunting me. But not just me. This is some great news. I got this letter from Commissioner Ken Russell overnight.


Hi Tom,

I saw your post about [the young lady's] visit to the Village Council last week (A Cry for Help).  You were dead on.  All of the intentions and talk from me and others have not changed the fact that she and up to 120 other residents of the West Grove may be evicted and homeless in the coming months.

On a long shot, I came to the final city budget hearing tonight with an amendment to allocate $306,000 toward emergency re-housing for urgent eviction situations like this. After some discussion and pushback and then support, the amendment passed.  The funds will be placed in the Department of Community Development which will create a program to work with these residents and bridge the gap to their next place in life.

The bigger solution involves accessible housing opportunities within our community.  I’m up for that challenge, but in the meantime, I’m very thankful to my fellow Commissioners for helping these neighbors.

Ken Russell
Vice Chair, Miami City Commission
District 2

COMMENTS ARE OPEN

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Do you support the village?

I was talking with a couple of store owners here in the Grove; stores, not restaurants. They were telling me that business is bad. They claim that locals don't shop in the Grove. Is that true?

Their argument, which makes sense, is that we're putting in all sorts of condos and multi-unit dwellings on one plat of land because people want to live in Coconut Grove, yet they don't spend any money here and support the village. They may eat at the restaurants, but when it comes to retail, they don't spend a dime. These store owners know because they ask people where they are from, and most are not from the Grove.

One owner told me that in South Miami, maybe 90% of the shoppers are from South Miami; but he says, not at Sunset Place, which is basically the same as CocoWalk. On the south side of Sunset Drive, many of those stores have been there for years and the store owners know their customers by name. It's not a tourist destination as maybe Sunset Place is, and the owners on Sunset Drive and south, rely on the neighbors to support them.



I was given some ideas on how to improve the Grove, but we have heard all this before. One store owner told me we need artists, art galleries, maybe even horses and carriages and clubs. Yes clubs. And he also said hand carts, which had always been a part of the village for years. We don't even have the rickshaw guys here anymore. Remember Spider-man? St. Petersburg, FL, has horses and carriages as well as NYC and New Orleans, and if the horse is treated with respect, why not here, too? When we have the mounted police riding around the Grove, it's a special thing. People love it.

Also, opening up the Coconut Grove Playhouse again was on the list, but that doesn't seem to be happening at this point. The playhouse did recently receive some sort of historical designation, but that and $5 will get you a cup of coffee at Panther.


I have to admit that on Gallery Walk night or even at the Village Council meeting the other night, it was the same people at each one. I like seeing people I know, but it would be so nice if new faces showed up for something. Just like a few years ago, when we had events in the Grove, each committee had the same people on all of them, many of us would walk from one meeting to the next, the same people, running all the committees. We would walk from a Bedrace meeting at the Bookstore to the Mayfair next door, to meet about July 4th, then maybe traipse over to the Glass House for a Merchants Meeting, and so on.

I find it interesting that so many people want to move and live here but they don't support the village. Why? Maybe a little charm and atmosphere will do the trick. As if Coconut Grove wasn't charming enough.


COMMENTS ARE OPEN.


A big part of our past - Shaun/Spider-man.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Bombay Darbar adds Wednesday to lunch lineup

Bombay Darbar, probably the best Indian restaurant in these parts, is now open for lunch on Wednesdays, so the lunch schedule is Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 3 pm.

Dinner is served every night except Tuesdays. Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 6:00-10:00 pm and Friday and Saturday 6:00 - 11:00 pm.

Receive 10% OFF on lunch on Wednesdays only during September and October - but you must mention the Coconut Grove Grapevine to receive that. 

Bombay Darbar is located at 2901 Florida Avenue.

For info: 305-444- 7272.

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Women and Politics Vote Photo campaign kick-off

Join Melissa Dynan and Melissa Hunsberger as they host their second Vote photo campaign kick-off at Spasso restaurant. They will be highlighting the power of women voting that night, and will continue the Vote photo campaign throughout the Presidential election at various locations in the county. Come out and have fun, and learn how you can change our community. Enjoy complimentary Prosecco.

The event is Thursday, September 22 from 6 to 8 pm.

All are welcome. Campaign staffers/volunteers are encouraged to attend and network. 

Spasso is located at 3540 Main Highway.

Please RSVP Melissa Dynan at dynanconsulting@gmail.com

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A cry for help

At Friday's Village Council meeting, one heartbreaking thing happened. After John Snyder spoke for  a long time about the lot splitting and tree canopy issues, a young lady from Village West came up to the podium and asked if this is really important. People got quiet and a bit uncomfortable, and she went on. She said, "In the scheme of things, are you affected? Or do you still have your own comfy house to go home to?" The audience was silent. The Village Council members were silent. She said that there will always be traffic, so what is a little more. She was making no sense at first.

Then it dawned on me and I guess others, that she and her children were being evicted from her apartment in Village West, not only she, but the whole building, and ironically, it was because of this non-stop development. It really all tied in because her buildings's owner, a slum lord, is trying to sell the building to developers. He wants the building vacant. While we are all complaining about aesthetics, she's just trying to keep a roof over her head.

So while the trees and the multiple dwellings did not matter to her, the over-development did, since it was displacing her. I've heard about these slumlords who own buildings on Grand Avenue and who can't wait to sell to the highest bidder. So they do nothing to repair the buildings, they raise rents and/or they evict people.


"It's a cry for help," said Commissioner Ken Russell, regarding the lady's demeanor and questions. She felt no one cared.  Ken was at the meeting, he said that she had met with him at his office. She has been reaching out to anyone who will listen. I myself, received an email about the subject, I didn't know how to react, I just emailed her back saying, "I know what's going on, it's terrible." Of course, that's no help. That's not a solution.

After the lady's plea for help, I guess you could say she was ignored, only because what was the solution, was there one? The subject then went back to over-development and what's going on around here. Ken says his office is investigating 20 cases of zoning issue violations. But of course, this does not help the young lady, her children and their neighbors.

Talk started about affordable housing and Ken mentioned that his office was going over the Miami21 code line by line and they will change all the vague wording so that new development does not have a question of what can can cannot be done. But that is not helping this lady now.


A housing summit is being planned by the Village Council. Everyone seems to want to do something but in the meantime, nothing is getting done. This poor lady is being evicted and all anyone really can do is talk and talk, including myself. We're all talk, no action. While she and her neighbors sit helpless. 

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Bingo is this Thursday at Woman's Club

Don't forget this Thursday, September 22 is Bingo Night at Woman's Club of Coconut Grove. Bring your family and friends, doors open at 6:30 pm and Bingo begins at 7:00.

Admissions is $5 for adults and children under 12 play free. It's $1 per card with a minimum of 5 games.

Refreshments and snacks will be served and there are great prizes and gift certificates.

The last game will be a $1000 cash prize with full bingo card of 46 numbers called.

Parking is $3 flat rate at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church. 

All proceeds benefit the Woman's Club of Coconut Grove, celebrating 125 years.

The club is located at 2985 S. Bayshore Drive, for info: 305-446-2909.

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Ribbon cutting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Park

Late Friday afternoon, Mayor Tomas Reglado and the City Commissioners cut the ribbon at the new and improved Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Park. That's the little park on SW 22 Avenue, off of Tigertail. That whole street is nice now, after renovation at the US1 end, the whole street was repaved and it's nice and clean and smooth.

Mayor Regalado spoke at the podium. 

And then the park was open for all. There's new grass and equipment for kids.

Photos by Sandi Speier

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

It's all about the locals early weekend mornings

Harvest Moon over the gym this morning.
I've written before about my early morning weekend routine and how great it is. For me. I never get bored with it. Today, Sunday, I guess is the same as Saturday, but this morning was an example of how it goes.

I get up early to go to the gym, the sun is usually just coming up, I adjust leaving the house so that I am not going out in pitch darkness. I usually stop and take some sunrise shots over the bay, it never gets old. This morning, the Harvest Moon greeted me.

I get to the gym early and there is a handful of people and we all know each other from being that handful of people each weekend. On Saturday, the music sucks, it's mostly new and/or rap stuff which I don't like. On Sundays, I don't want to leave the gym, it's all '80s music and videos. I think I spend more time in front of the large tv than I do working out. The music and especially the videos bring back so many memories. For me, the '80s was the best decade. From what I've read over the years, I think the 1920s, 1950s and 1980s were special decades. In my head anyway.

From the gym I go to Starbucks, where I know a bunch of the bicyclists, even my attorney is one of them, so I know that crowd. I have friends that do long distance biking and I meet them and we chat a bit before they take off for their long ride. In that period, people pass by and wave, they know us, we know them, including the police who usually pass by in numbers, like a train of cars, heading to breakfast somewhere.


This morning as we all departed Starbucks, my friends on their bikes, me by foot, another friend came by on his adult three-wheeler. He saw so many bikes yet not one car on the street that he asked, "Is it Bike Day again?" Remember those? I had not see him for awhile so we spoke for a bit and then he said he was headed to church.

I walked a half block and a couple who I know came from the gym. He called out to me to tell me he liked something in the Grapevine and I smiled and waved. And oh yes, earlier in Starbucks, a guy I didn't know, but who knew me, said, "Hi Tom." And we proceeded to talk.

As I walked a little further, someone else I knew walked by and greeted me and so on. Others pass by and wave and call out to each other. Even though it is 7:30 or 8:00 am, there are people out. I head to the Bookstore where I get breakfast, I sneak in the back door, as they are not open for business yet, but the regulars know how to get in early. I kibitz there for a bit while waiting for my to-go breakfast and then I'm off. Maybe having spoken to a dozen or more people around the village by 8 am.

Many times as I'm standing in front of Starbucks, others call out from their cars at the stoplight. This happens often. One is off to get bagels, one is off to open his store, another is heading towards his restaurant and so on. I think I see more people I know early weekend mornings than I do during weekday working hours.

I realized that the common denominator of all this is that early weekend mornings, except for the large group of bicyclists passing through, it's all locals. All the earlybird people are Grovites. As I walked by SapientNitro, it was dark and empty and all those office workers we see during weekdays at the Mayfair, are not there. And CocoWalk and other places are not buzzing with people like they would be later in the day. Early weekend mornings, it's just us. Just the neighbors. Just the Grovites.

When I got home, as I pull into my driveway, I have to stop to let someone walk by, it's Manny Diaz, yes, that Manny Diaz. He's always at the same spot at the same time, in front of my driveway, he says, "Hello," as I wait for him to walk by so I can pull in. And that's my early morning weekends. Runs like clockwork. Even down to Manny walking passed the driveway at the same moment.

It's 8:15 am and all this has gone on. Now I'm home. It's still quiet and peaceful for an hour or so before the cacophony of the day begins.

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Training for the Rock 'n' Roll Vegas Marathon

FT Trainer Garrick Adams with client, Sandy P.
Running a half marathon is no easy task and Coconut Grove residents, Chris and Sandy P. can attest to that. Chris and Sandy are preparing for the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon on November 13 and they know that preparing to run 13.2 miles requires a disciplined training regimen. 

To prepare for their long distance venture, the husband and wife enlisted the expert help of Fitness Together Miami personal training. At FT's Coconut Grove location, they are each working one-on-one with their trainer, Garrick Adams. Garrick has created an individualized workout program for Chris and Sandy that focuses on their strengths and weaknesses to prepare them for the upcoming race.


FT Trainer Garrick Adams with client, Chris P.
"Its important to treat each client as an individual for him or her to get the best possible results," says Garrick. "For example, Chris needs more core work and leg strengthening whereas Sandy's primary focus is staying accountable and maintaining motivation." Garrick's motivation for his clients goes beyond the scope of their Monday/Wedesday/Friday workouts - he actually enrolled in the half marathon himself!

Please cheer on Sandy, Chris and Garrick in their half marathon endeavor, and if you are an aspiring runner or simply looking to develop a personalize exercise program, check out private one on one training at Fitness Together Coconut Grove: fitnesstogether.com/coconutgrove

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Coconut Grove is Wade County today

I was back at City Hall and Regatta Park early Saturday morning for the D. Wade CommUNITY Bike Ride, hosted of course by former Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade and wife Gabrielle Union.


Hundreds turned out for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)'s event, partnered with City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and Commissioner Ken Russell (I saw Ken, riding his bike, didn't see the mayor).


It was a beautiful morning for the event. Sunny and pretty right on the water. "It's great to get kids outdoors interacting with positive role models," said Commissioner Ken Russell. "I can't wait to ride through Coconut Grove with Dwyane Wade."


The ride started at about 8 am and went for about 6 to 7 miles around Center and South Grove. There were events at Regatta Park and outside City Hall before and after the ride.
Kids, adults, everyone enjoyed the fun day.


City Commissioner Francis Suarez; Jorge Colina, City of Miami Assistant Chief of Police; Mary Jane Mark from Mack Cycle and Grove Commander Manuel Morales posing with the new Cannondale, Mavaro bicycle.


There were a couple hundred who participated.
Dwyane was quite patient with the crowds, being enveloped in them from the second
he showed up. 

He took a lot of photos with the crowd and of course, got a selfie of himself.
Jorge Colina, City of Miami Assistant Chief of Police and our own Grove Commander Manuel Morales tried a brand new electric bike being shown by sponsor Mack Cycle. It was a high-tech mobility bicycle Cannondale, Mavaro performance with a Bosch motor with a price tag of $4500. Fitting that a Bosch motor would be part of D.Wade's bike ride today.


Harry Gottlieb is the ambassador for the Cannondale and Mack Cycle all day Saturday, here he is showing Commander Morales how to start the motor up.

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Village Council; back where they belong

I was thrilled to be at a Coconut Grove Village Council meeting back at City Hall on Friday night, The Village Council has not met in City Hall since they were asked to vacate in 2009. Thanks to Commissioner Ken Russell and his staff, who worked along with the City and Village Council, they are now back at their rightful home. The meeting was not televised, but it will be when things are worked out.

Ken's office welcomed the council back in a sweet way, there were signs saying "Welcome Back" around the chamber and "Welcome Back," the theme song from Welcome Back, Kotter, played on a loop as people entered for the meeting. Really nice and thoughtful.

Kate Callahan ran the meeting, she said that since the Village Council is an elected body and not a homeowner's group, there is still a debate about them being televised, but hoped to work that out by next month's meeting. The City has to stop being closed minded about this. They stole the Grove in 1925, the least they can do is give them a couple of hours of airtime once a month. And hopefully, they'll get a more prime-time date, rather than on a Friday night. 

A big part of the meeting was about the over-development and tree canopy in Coconut Grove. So much of it has been repeated these past few months but something needs to be done. Ken Russell's office is working on clarifying lots of the Miami21 issues regarding NCD2 and NCD3 (2 is Village West and 3 is the rest of the Grove) the NCD stands for Neighborhood Conservation District.) but no conservation is going on these days.

Two neighbors who have been very involved with the zoning issues, John Snyder and Grant Sheehan spoke about the issues. John did most of the talking, with a powerpoint presentation. John said there are clauses about architectural style, especially in NCD2, and they are not being followed. Single family sites must remain single family sites, no matter what the lot size is, according to John. Overcrowding of multiple homes on one site is not permitted. And the destruction of the tree canopy in the process is not permitted. But developer scoot around the law.

John said that these new houses and buildings going in are redesigning the original city plans one house at a time. It adds to traffic and the carbon footprint. It affects water and sewage.

Only one warrant in six years has been approved. The developers work around it, they get additional folio numbers from the county, so they turn one folio into four, and then the City gives them four separate permits.

This needs to be changed. Ken mentioned his issue with the City Attorney and said there will be changes.

Palo Alto, California, recently turned down Mark Zuckerberg's request to knock down homes to rebuild a large compound, which is what these huge illegally built houses are doing in Coconut Grove. We need to be more like Palo Alto. Just say no.

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Friday, September 16, 2016

10 with Ben

10 With Tom
10 questions in 10 minutes 


Ben and his kids
at the Metrorail
I interviewed Ben Kalstone as my next 10 With Tom subject, I'm sure you've seen Ben around the Grove, he works for Colliers, the real estate firm (used to be The PointeGroup). Ben's been my friend and neighbor for almost 15 years. I thought you would enjoy getting to know him.

TOM: What is it that you do at Colliers? 
BEN: I am a broker specializing in retail tenant and landlord representation. In addition to working throughout Dade and Broward counties, we have brokered several recent deals here in center Grove.

TOM: What would you change about Coconut Grove if you could? 
BEN: Let me start by saying, I love the Grove the way it is. I think the most important changes we need to undergo are a transformation along Grand Avenue (west) that activates the area while preserving its original Bahamian identity, and it would be nice to see the playhouse restored and thriving.

TOM: What do you like about Coconut Grove? 
BEN: Sounds funny, but I like being a local in Coconut Grove. I like to see people I’ve known my entire life walking down the street, I like riding my bike or walking into center Grove with my children just like I used to do as a child with my friends and family, and I like watching the non-locals enjoying our paradise.

TOM: Favorite restaurant in Coconut Grove? 
BEN: That is a tough question, if I have to limit it to three, I will go with Lokal, Bombay Darbar and Farinelli 1937. (that answer is very unfair to 33, LuLu’s, Sapore di Mare, Spillover, Jaguar and Harry’s; each of these places has many great menu items!  I’ve also been enjoying the Juicense juices lately).

TOM: What is one thing you would suggest a first time visitor to go see or do? 
BEN: The Grove is all about atmosphere, I always feel the best way to soak in the energy of the Grove is by sitting on a sidewalk, having a meal, and watching the world go by. Eventually people are always taken back by the laid back vibe.  Our family often enjoys a post meal nature walk out to The Barnacle, it is relaxing, secluded and a great way to walk off your meal!

TOM: If you could live anywhere in the world for a year with your family, where would that be? 
BEN: Tel Aviv!  People don’t realize it but Tel Aviv is a lot like Miami. It is a crowded international city with awesome beaches, great restaurants and laid back people (except the crazy drivers).

TOM: What do you usually order at Starbucks?
BEN: Double espresso, but I refuse to conform to their jargon by saying “doppio”.


TOM: They like serving doppio's there because I ordered a Mocha the other day and they heard "doppio," and gave me that.

TOM: What did you have for breakfast today? BEN: Scrambled Eggs with Salsa at Greenstreet Cafe, lately I’ve been addicted to that breakfast.

TOM: when you head out on your boat, where do you like to end up? 
BEN: I like to keep it old school and have a family day at Elliott Key. The Stiltsville sandbar can also be good family fun if you beat the riff raff and get in and out early. For me it’s all about the tide and making sure we go somewhere shallow enough for my kids (and I) to stand. But to answer your question, I like to end up back at the dock!

TOM: What is the last tv show you binge watched? 
BEN: I would never admit to a couple of the shows I watch (and critique) through osmosis with my wife.  I don’t think I’ve binge watched anything since 24.

Thanks Ben! Good sport.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Full house for Chamber luncheon

Bob Pritchard was the speaker at last Friday's multi-chamber luncheon which was co-sponsored by the Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Key Biscayne and Downtown Miami & Brickell  Chambers of Commerce at Panomrama Restaurant at the Sonesta Coconut Grove. Bob has the number one global weekly radio show in the world for business and entrepreneurs on Voice American Business.

Above, from left, Rowena Kaylor,  Counselor; Melanie Sanchez, Total Bank;  Niurka Rodriguez, Bank of America Merrill Lynch 

Liliana Dones, Creative Tools, Bob Pritchard, Howard Kane, Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce 

Lakowitz Opt, First Web Marketing; Yesenia Moreno, Albion Staffing Solutions;  Gigi Rivera, Bank of the Ozarks 


Raisa V. Fleitas, The Munity Hotel; Jennifer Rosado, Sonesta Coconut Grove; Elizabeth Dubon, Sonesta Coconut Grove
Mike Moore, COI Access; Kiki Wills, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Day School; Cathie D’Arcy, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Day School
Camila Quaresma, Sharp Dentistry; Laurie A. Zapletal,  BB&T; Dr. Rick Soria, Miami Dade College President Wolfson Campus and Erika King, Artist
John Knowles and Mindy Knowles of Photo Offset; Ashley Sodeman, Grouper Commercial Realty, LLC;  Joel B. Krieger, Coconut Grove Sailing Club; Yvonne Rosemeier, Grouper Commercial Realty LLC;  Ernesto Martinez,  Ernesto Martinez CPA Esq.


Kathy Susnjer, Key Biscayne Chamber of Commerce; Morgan Duzoglou , Key Biscayne Chamber of Commerce; Alicia Ortiz, Community Outrearch Specialist Mercy Hospital;  Monica Couso, Director of Marketing Mercy Hospital,;Tayana Chiocchetti,  Key Biscayne Chamber of  Commerce and Wendy Zane, The Mutiny Hotel


Elfrain Sora,  Sora Global Insurance & Consulting LLC and Luis Martinez-Moore,  Alborada Insurance,


Sonia C. Hendler, Arts and Business Council of Miami;  Yaquelyn Sanchez, Centric Consultan;  Jansen Pennock, Centric Consulting 
Madelin Pacheco, NET Coconut Grove and J.S. Rashid – Collaborative Development Corp and Kroma Art Gallery
Curtis J. Crider, Sonesta Coconut Grove;  Madellin Pacheco, NET Coconut Grove;  Commander Manuel Morales, Coconut Grove Police Commander


Liliana Dones, Creative Tools; Monty Trainer, Coconut Grove Art Festival; Jennifer Rosado, Sonesta Coconut Grove; Lilia Garcia, Dynamo Art;  Onelia Collazo Mendive, Gables Central / Social Miami;  Bob Pritchard, Author, Radio Talk Show; Wendy Zane, The Mutiny Hotel; Erika King, Artist;  Ed Prelaz,  Cushman & Wakefield, LLC.

Photos by Rafael Gutierrez

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