- Matias Pesce is the CEO of V&E Restaurants which owns and operates several eateries in Miami's South Beach.
- He says the 8 p.m. spring break and 12 a.m. COVID curfews have been tough on his business and staff.
- Here's why he wants all curfews to end after spring break, as told to freelance writer Molly O'Brien.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
It's been tough here in Miami Beach as a restaurant owner during the pandemic. March is usually our most successful month of the year, so we expected a boom in sales this spring to help out after dealing with the pandemic.
We'd been working to prepare for higher traffic, as we're very accustomed to an influx of visitors. Unfortunately, some crowds have gotten out of control.
The huge influx of out-of-state young people and spring breakers became a huge problem. The officials ruled that through early April a curfew will take place Thursday through Sunday at 8 p.m. During the week Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and we have regular operations with closing at 12 a.m.
As a business, we've been heavily impacted as people are deciding not to come to South Beach. I've been in touch with local hotels here - they're telling me that every day they're getting cancellations for future reservations.
You can see and feel that South Beach and Ocean Drive have less people now.
It's like the low season in the middle of high season.
Since the first weekend with the new curfew, we've experienced 40% reduced sales, which has been difficult on top of dealing with the pandemic.
Before the spring break situation, we'd been working together with the officials and the mayor and the landlord and business operators to create an enjoyable experience for visitors. But it turned into a situation where we needed to enforce rules as an important way to protect people.
Still, as a business our concern is also about the future reservations that are getting cancelled and visitors deciding to go to another place. It's probably going to be this way until the end of spring break - right now through April 12. It's going to be two hard weeks for businesses here.
We're doing our best to move forward despite the hit to business.
We believe in Miami Beach, and we believe in our officials to take care of us in the long term. This is V&E Restaurants' way to do business, to work with the community and our 500 employees in restaurants across Miami - and we're proud of our people. We're aiming to make Miami Beach a better place.
Of course, there's the human part of this situation - but the business part is hard, too.
We understand people want to go back to a normal life or a "new normal" - we want to socialize, we want to see other people. But now we don't have the opportunity to do this anytime soon, because of a few irresponsible people, and we have to wait even longer.
As a Miami resident myself, I do agree with keeping the curfew on Ocean Drive for spring break, but I'd like to see the curfew removed on Española Way so that those businesses can go back to normal, with everything open again. Most importantly, we want to operate as safely as possible for both our guests and employees.
In my personal opinion, after spring break we should remove all curfews, as currently in Miami-Dade County we still have a 12 a.m. curfew due to COVID.
We have to protect jobs, staff, our community, and our economy.
For the past year it's been hard, and this is the moment we need to remain positive as a community. We're prioritizing everything we need to do to protect visitors as well as locals in our city.
Government, city officials, and business operators must execute a plan together to improve not only safety but also the reputation of Miami Beach. We want to be known as a safe place to enjoy perfect weather, beautiful beaches, art, entertainment, and attraction. If Miami Beach isn't a safe place, it will be very difficult to attract out of town visitors, and tourism is Miami's number one industry.