Come November, that warm, savory smell of cheese and tomato sauce that lingers near Miami’s Best Pizza will fade away – and so will Miami’s already tenuous resemblance to a college town.
The family-owned restaurant, which has been open since 1970, is closing its doors in two months after being crowded out by high competition along U.S. 1. Although the owners are trying to relocate nearby, it is still unclear whether they will be able to do so.
Miami’s Best is not alone in its misfortune. Almost everywhere you look, it seems that so-called mom-and-pop stores are shutting down. The beloved Spec’s Records and Tapes, for example, was recently bought out after 65 years of service to the loyal local community. And while this phenomenon is not linked exclusively to our city, it is particularly problematic given Miami’s transportation system.
Miami is not, as students quickly discover, a walkable city. Nor is it safely bikable, and public transportation can only take you so far. Many of the independent stores that do still exist, such as Wall’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream and Books & Books, are not easily reachable for students who don’t have cars. The closing of Miami’s Best deals a significant blow to the university’s repertoire of accessible family-owned establishments.
It doesn’t look like any new independent stores will be opening any time soon, and unless we want all of UM’s local culture and history to be wiped away by faceless chains, we need to step up – literally. It may be a bit of a walk to Whip ‘n Dip Ice Cream, but it’s worth it to keep it from being supplanted by yet another “The Country’s Best Yogurt.” After all, these little local businesses are a big part of what makes any one neighborhood distinct from another.
Where there’s a university, there will always be pizza. However, there’s something in the taste of a meal cooked with fresh ingredients, whose exact replica you can’t find anywhere else. Developed by fellow Miamians who live a mere few miles away, they make the recipe worth preserving.
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.