Do you remember the last time you went to Española Way? If you’re a visitor, maybe. If you’re a local, probably not. For most people in Miami, the pedestrian Miami Beach street is Lincoln Road Lite, a place best left to the tourists.
Española Way, however, is sick of that nonsense.
The historic Mediterranean-style street, which lies between Washington and Pennyslvania avenues and 14th and 15th streets in Miami Beach, just survived a $2.5 million restoration project. It’s got new lighting and new trees, plus a pedestrian-friendly curb-less design.
And it wants to welcome locals back quite badly.
“Locals were driven out of Lincoln Road and Ocean Drive,” says developer Scott Robins, who led the renovation of popular Sunset Harbour and is leading the charge for Española Way. “Locals wanted their own places to eat, their own workout places. They needed a place they could call their own. That’s how Sunset Harbour was created.
“I’m not going to fool myself and say Española Way is going to be taken over by locals. I don’t think that will ever be the case. But if it’s easy enough and pretty enough and cheap enough, there are times locals will want to connect there.”
Robins believes several factors could contribute to a revival of local interest in the street. With the advent of Lyft and Uber, parking is less of an issue. The street is small and feels safe, and it’s not overrun with chain stores. Getting rid of the curbs contributes to its charming Italian-Spanish vibe.
And the recently-formed Española Way Association wants to stop to locals’ least favorite thing about Miami Beach: high pressure advances by hosts and hostesses.
“We talk about it all the time,” Robins says. “Hawking is terrible, and we all know it. . . . We’re not perfect, but it’s something we work on. And now we have a forum to have these discussions.”
Here are some of the other ways Española Way hopes to lure you:
A locals-only discount card
Local residents get a 20 percent discount at participating restaurants and retailers. Go to VisitEspanolaWay.com/locals, enter your email to access the card and add to your smartphone wallet. Present the card at the business. You’ll also need proof of residence.
And here’s a tip: Show it before you’re seated. Don’t whip it out after dinner only to find there’s a blackout date.
Appealing new businesses
In May, Happy Place Donuts and Sugar Factory’s Gummy World opened at 507 Española Way. Nothing says “Please come, locals!” like peach Bellini-infused gummy bears.
Meatless Mondays: Restaurants offer vegetarian-friendly fare
Tuesdays: Arts and crafts market from 4-9 p.m.
Wednesdays: Free opera performances at Hosteria Romana from 8:30-9:30 p.m. and free happy hours from 4-7 p.m. at the street’s restaurants. Even the salon, Contesta Rock Hair, has a special: 15 percent off salon services and free beer
Salsa Thursdays: 7 p.m. by Havana 1957
Flamenco Fridays: 7:30 at Tapas Y Tintos
Saturday mornings: Free yoga with Synergy Yoga at 9:30 a.m.
Samba Saturdays: Samba Night at Boteco Copacabana at 8:30 p.m.
Sunday Market: Don’t let the name fool you. The Sunday Markets are open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 4 until 9 p.m.