Miracle Mile business playing musical chairs
By Suzy Valentine
Businesses on Miracle Mile in Coral Gables are playing musical chairs.
Corset Corner at 300 is to close Saturday, making way for California Pizza Kitchen - the restaurant's second county location after Miami International Airport.
"We're moving up to Boca Raton," said Delores Lurie, who has run Corset Corner for 44 years. "This business is 67 years old. My mother set it up. I was born into it, so I have mixed emotions about leaving."
"The restaurant has applied for a building permit," said Mari Molina, executive director of the Business Improvement District, which oversees the four-block stretch as well as Aragon and Andalusia avenues. "The architect is just drawing up his plans."
Another restaurant will move to the Mile within the next three weeks. City Cellars at 67 is to open Oct. 10 after suffering some fitting delays prompted by Hurricane Katrina.
"They're just a little behind," said Ms. Molina. "A glass door is being delivered later than expected after every store between here and Gulfport, MS, suffered delays to orders."
"It's just the build-out that's been affected by the hurricane," said general manager and partner Michael Ignatowicz, who opened City Cellar locations in Palm Beach Gardens and Birmingham, MI.
Miracle Mile, said Mr. Ignatowicz, is a good fit with the brand.
"The Coral Gables set is becoming increasingly wine-savvy, and the Mile is establishing itself as a restaurant destination."
A planned Benihana outlet at 242, the former Mayor's Jewelers site, is closer to opening, said Ms. Molina.
"It's progressing steadily," she said. "Builders have poured concrete into the second floor."
Also on the 200 block, American Apparel's unit is refitted and ready for occupation.
"The store was to have opened Sept. 9," said Ms. Molina, "but opening should be imminent."
In the same stretch, the Missura furniture store is moving from 221 to 215, next to Houston's at 201, to a larger space formerly occupied by Walmer.
Pan American Bank is to move into its present location.
Montica Jewelry is to move from Gables One Tower at 1320 S. Dixie Highway to 67 on the Mile - next to Tarpon Bend - by Christmas.
"John O'Rourke does such a good job of marketing," said Ms. Molina of the store's owner, "and this location will complement his efforts."
Meanwhile, the first of three valet parking stations to be operational along the thoroughfare by Oct. 1 is in service. Valet Plus Parking Systems Inc., which won the bid, has begun operations on the 200 block.
"We opened up the first station early on Sept. 6," said Ms. Molina. "Houston's had closed its own valet service, so we ramped up ours. Our station, outside Jae's Jewelers, is doing well," she said. "It's strong, though not as strong as Houston's was. But the plan is to promote more aggressively once all three are up and running next month."
Ms. Molina hopes that an event later in October will attract more visitors.
"We're repeating our Haunted Halloween," she said of the Oct. 29 Baptist Health Systems-sponsored event. "We expect anywhere up to 500 people."