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CBS Miami

Miami Beach liquor store sales halted as ban kicks in

By Peter D'Oench,


Liquor store sales in South Beach dry up 03:23

A shelf of alcoholic beverages at a Miami Beach liquor store. CBS News Miami

MIAMI BEACH -- With only a few hours before they were forced to shut their doors, liquor store owners on Miami Beach spoke out Thursday about new city-imposed restrictions that will force them to close their businesses early over the next four nights.

The city ordered the liquor store ban in the wake of a city-imposed crack down after two deadly shootings on Ocean Drive last weekend.

The new city rule prohibits the sale of alcohol in Miami Beach for off-premises consumption for businesses from 23rd Street to Government Cut from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. from this Thursday through Monday.

Ronnie Menashe, owner of South Beach Liquors, took CBS Miami's Peter D'Oench inside the store he has owned for nine years, saying he and other liquor store owners were being unfairly singled out.

"I feel very uncomfortable," Menashe said. "This is not the same weekend as last weekend. Everybody knows the problematic weekend in Miami Beach is the third weekend in March and not this weekend."

He said the crowds for this weekend would be in Miami for the Ultra Music Festival.

"The people in town for that are very nice and they come from all over the world to enjoy themselves," Menashe said. "There is no reason to shut everybody down this weekend."

Jorge Zubigaray has owned Gulf Liquors on Alton Road since 1999.

"I feel this is not fair at all," he said. "They are not shutting down the bars and restaurants and they serve alcohol where there the problem is at. Based on my clientele, I am mostly a celebrity store and I take care of a lot of high-end celebrities and I am looking at losing close to $200,000 over the weekend.

"It's also cutting me 6 hours short per night and my employees don't get paid for those nights," Zubigaray said. "This is my last good season for me to make money. This is my cushion before the slow season that comes and you are going to take that from me."

On Wednesday, his attorney filed for an injunction against the order and he claimed the city violated constitutional equal protection rights when it targetted liquor stores for selective enforcement."

In a statement on Wednesday, City Attorney Rafael Paz said: "We haven't been served with any lawsuit, but if and when we are, we will defend the emergency order and the city's right to impose measures intended to protect residents and visitors by curbing package liquor sales that fuel the unruly chaos on the streets. Last year, the circuit court upheld a much more restrictive emergency order under almost identical circumstances and we are confident that the court will rule in our favor here, too."

It is not known if the court will rule on the lawsuit before this weekend's ban expires.

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