Caviar kiosk gets green light to serve wine in Aventura Mall - buy the best caviar

By Andres Amerikaner
Fri, May 09, 2008


A small kiosk that has been selling pricey tins of caviar and foie gras for 11 years at the Aventura Mall will be allowed to serve glasses of wine and champagne to customers sampling their food, thanks to a special approval granted by the city.

The Caviar & More stand, on the mall's ground level, is owned by luxury food importer and exporter Marky's, based in North Miami. Its president, Mark Zaslavsky, said the kiosk's inability to serve alcohol -- a similar petition was rejected by the city in 1999 -- was making it the laughingstock of the industry.

''It's very embarrassing to sell caviar with apricot juice or water,'' Zaslavsky said. ``In every airport, in every place where caviar and foie gras is sold, you get a complimentary glass of champagne or sweet wine.''

In a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the city commission agreed to let the kiosk provide a single glass of wine or champagne to customers -- with a few restrictions.

Only those seated in the stand's bar area -- six stools, which will be blocked off by two screens on either side -- will be allowed to have a drink. Each glass can only contain four ounces of liquid. Only one drink will be allowed, and only for those who are tasting food. Bottles of wine and champagne will be for sale but cannot be opened inside the mall.

Despite the restrictions, some commissioners voiced their concerns.

''I don't know that I'll be comfortable knowing that there'll be people walking around the mall with a sealed bottle of wine,'' said Commissioner Luz Urbáez Weinberg.

Vice Mayor Zev Auerbach brought up a city law that doesn't allow alcohol to be served within 2,500 feet of a school. The law, he said, is intended to protect children.

And ''that mall has an overabundance of children during the day,'' he said.

In 1999, when the commission first rejected Caviar & More's petition, the city was worried the kiosk could turn into a bar, said Planning Director Joanne Carr. However, some of the restrictions imposed this time -- like the screens and the four-ounce limit -- were not offered then, she said.

City leaders were not comfortable allowing an exposed bar amid the mall's throngs of shoppers. With the drink limit, though, that problem will be addressed.

''It's to enhance the taste of the sample,'' Carr said.

The kiosk will not be the first or only mall establishment to serve alcohol. Many restaurants already host full-scale bars; there are 18 locations where alcohol can be purchased within 1,500 feet of the stand, according to the city's report.

The stand will start providing wine and champagne in about two weeks, after its employees are trained and new glasses and silverware are brought in, Zaslavsky said.

In other business, the commission:

Awarded a Distinguished Citizen Award, a first for the city, to resident Norman Leopold, who was chairman of the board of trustees of the Aventura Hospital from 2003 to 2007. Approved a resolution urging Miami-Dade County to adopt a law forcing restaurants to disclose the price of their specials. Picked the Suffolk Construction Company to build the city's arts center, which will rise at the end of Northeast 188th Street, a waterfront location next to the city's community center and the Aventura charter school.