It's sort of a family joke, but every so often — not that often, but every so often, maybe a few times a year — I get a hankering for a Cobb Salad. For the past decade or more, when that happens I've dragged my wife, or sometimes the whole family, off to South Miami's Beverly Hills Cafe. I don't know how long it's been there, but 15 years at least. It wasn't expensive, and if wasn't super-cheap either, well they made up for it with big portions, fast and attentive service, and very nice hot rolls while you waited. And it was usually busy. Sometimes you had to wait. I even forgave them for expanding into the space formerly occupied by Joe's News, which, pre-internet was the best place to get out-of-town and international newspapers and magazines.
I got that Cobb Salad feeling today, and I took myself off to South Miami, just on the other side of US 1 from my neighborhood, but when I got to the Beverly Hills Cafe, so long a feature of Sunset Ave, there was a sign on the door that they're closed due to the recession. I don't know if it's the whole seven-location chain, or just the one near me, but either way, it was a surprise.
Then again, maybe it shouldn't have been a surprise. Most times over the years when I went there for lunch on a weekday, the place seemed full of local business types — especially real estate and banking folks. I guess they don't eat out so much these days.
(The parking lot behind the restaurant that used to have a guard and charge by the hour seems to have been taken over by the City of South Miami, and turned into city metered parking, which I suppose is the only tiny silver lining in the story. But they meter even on Sundays.)
Next best Cobb Salad that I know of in the area is at the Coral Gables Diner, in downtown Coral Gables, but it's further away and harder to park, the salad is smaller, not as nice, significantly more expensive ($15!?!), and their honey mustard dressing is lame.
Not to mention a lot of people must have lost their jobs, as the Beverly Hills was pretty big.