As Miami Beach gets ready for spring break next March, places like Naked Taco in the Tudor Hotel on Ocean Drive prepare for this busy time and the challenges it brings. Naked Taco, open since 2014, has seen many changes during spring break, which brings excitement and worries to local shops and restaurants.

Efrain Barco, who manages Naked Taco, discusses how spring break weekends shake things up. “They actually make it a high-impact weekend [during spring break],” he says. During this time, the area changes significantly, with some streets being blocked. This makes it hard for people visiting and those living there to get around. Barco points out, “It only hits those specific areas from 23rd Street all the way down to Fifth Street,” highlighting the logistical challenges faced by his staff and guests in the Tudor Hotel during this period.

The implications of spring break extend beyond mere inconvenience. For a business like Naked Taco, it means changing how they work. Barco explains, “So, it’s very uncomfortable for anybody staying in this hotel, because how do they get out? How do they come back? Curfews? All that affects the restaurant because then we have to shut down by a certain time in order for my staff to get home before the curfew time.”

Naked Taco has taken steps to keep everyone safe during spring break. Barco talks about working closely with the police and having security guards at the restaurant’s entrance. This is important because of the gun laws in Florida. “I do implement a no-gun policy,” says Barco, showing how serious they are about keeping their guests safe.

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Spring break used to be simpler for businesses like Naked Taco. The manager, Barco, remembers the times before COVID-19 when things were less complicated. But when the pandemic hit, it brought a lot of problems, and the violence hurt local businesses.

Over time, the city has changed how it deals with these problems. Barco has seen a big difference in police work since 2021. They patrol more and take more decisive action. The police have even installed equipment to read car license plates and work more closely with businesses, making things safer.

However, despite better security, Miami Beach still struggles with a damaged reputation, affecting places like Naked Taco. Fewer tourists from Europe and the north are coming. “Our season is shrinking because we don’t have that influx of tourism coming into Miami Beach,” Barco says, showing concern about how this change affects business.

Local business owners have different ideas about how to deal with spring break. Mike Ohana, who helps run Meet Dalia on Ocean Drive, thinks the police need more money, not just barriers. “Wayne Jones, the new chief of the police, needs to be funded properly for him to protect the citizens of Ocean Drive and Miami Beach during spring break,” Ohana says, suggesting a plan that focuses more on strategy than just putting up barriers.

Historically, Miami Beach has used curfews and barricades to keep people safe, especially after violent events like shootings. But some business owners, like Ohana, think there are better approaches than this. They believe the city should find better ways to maintain the fun and lively atmosphere of Miami Beach without just blocking areas off.

There has been much discussion about handling spring break, which was evident in a city meeting on July 6. One major issue was that the commission did not agree to limit alcohol sales, which the outgoing mayor, Dan Gelber, believed would help. “I’m disappointed that the commission did not want to roll back liquor hours during spring break,” said Gelber.

Business owners are cautiously optimistic as Miami Beach looks towards spring break 2024. They want a balance between keeping people safe and helping tourism grow again. “Hopefully, this [upcoming] year, it’s going to be a little different,” says Barco, a thought many business people share. They want to do more than get through spring break; they want to make it an excellent time for everyone, keeping it fun, safe, and easy to get around.