News Cafe, an office on Ocean Drive since it was opened more than three decades ago by caterer Mark Soyka, has closed. The windows of the restaurant are covered with boards, the chain barricades the front door and the restaurant door the website has crashed.
His Instagram bio now carries a new slogan: “Temporarily closed.”
News of the restaurant’s current status began circulating on social media yesterday; early last night, Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Góngora posted on his Facebook account a photograph of the paneled façade and a note lamenting that the café “shut down”. When the commentator asked him to clarify, he replied, “I believe it is forever.”
The others rushed in in disbelief, but News Caffe’s social media accounts remain silent.
Calls to Soyka’s company went unanswered. Receptionist u Ocean’s 10, whose management currently runs the News Cafe, said the closure was only temporary. Goldman Properties, which owns the building, responded with a short message: “Thank you for contacting us, but we have no comment at this time.”
Early this afternoon, Góngora updated his previous post with a correction and published another post, who said, “News Cafe told me they were only closed temporarily and would be back … follow us!”
In its heyday, News Cafe brought a taste of European coffee culture to South Beach.
Then a cousin of Miami Beach, Mark Soyka he opened a cafe and kiosk in 1988 on the then-sleepy boulevard by the ocean. (Soyka moved in from New York with his friend, real estate developer Tony Goldman, of the aforementioned Goldman Properties.) Within a year, it was a magnet for locals and tourists alike. Emigrants from other countries would stop by every day to buy newspapers from their country at the kiosk and stay to read them during breakfast.
The most famous of these daily patrons was fashion designer Gianni Versace, who was known to go to the cafe from his Ocean Drive villa every morning. (News Cafe published international headlines when serial killer Andrew Cunanan killed Versace in front of his villa on July 15, 1997; the designer was returning home from a daily walk to News Cafe.)
Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, News Cafe was as constant as the ocean across the boulevard. And like the tides, the cafe changed the scene several times a day. In the early morning, the locals would stop by for coffee. In the afternoon, they saw sunny tourists looking for a cold drink after a day at the beach. In the wee hours of the morning, club visitors would visit them to throw a night of merriment.
The cafe has survived several hurricanes, not to mention changes in the taste and culture of Ocean Drive. It remained one of the few cult establishments in South Beach, along with names like Joe’s Stone Crab, Clevelander, Mac’s Club Deuce and Palace.
News Cafe. 800 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach; 305-538-6397; newscafe.com.
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