Liquor store owner urges court to stop Miami Beach’s spring break alcohol sales ban

Miami Beach liquor store owner Jorge Zubigaray says he’s put up with the city shutting down businesses the last three years for various reasons, namely the COVID-19 pandemic and spring break, but will stand his ground now that liquor stores are the only shops forced to close.

“You close my business down, you hurt my employees and my family?” he said. “Eight liquor stores are not the problem on Ocean Drive. I’m not the problem.”

Miami Beach declared a continued state of emergency Wednesday that will halt all alcohol sales for off-premises consumption after 6 p.m. from Thursday to Sunday in South Beach.

READ MORE: Miami Beach extends spring break emergency with liquor store cutoff, but no curfew

Later that afternoon, Gulf Liquors, which Zubigaray owns, filed an emergency injunction against the City of Miami Beach to halt the order that he said will effectively shut down his business for large amounts of time throughout the end of the week.

The injunction argues the city did not follow Florida statutes when declaring the state of emergency that forces only certain businesses to close and that Zubigaray will suffer “irreparable harm.”

Miami Beach City Attorney Rafael Paz told the Herald, “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,” he said.

Gulf Liquors has sold alcohol for the last six decades in Miami Beach, with Zubigaray owning it for the last 24 years. After hearing the most recent action by the city, he was moved to get with an attorney and file the injunction.

Zubigaray said it’s not about receiving money or filing a lawsuit against the city, he wants to protect the area liquor stores’ employees and their families who will be “unjustly” affected.

Apart from the more than $20,000 in profits he projects to lose, his employees will be missing about 24 hours of work from their paychecks.

“I’m doing it for all of them, and their the competition,” Zubigaray said. “At the end of the day..we all have families and their employees have families. It is something that is unjust.”

The continued state of emergency follows two fatal shootings on Ocean Drive this past weekend and what the city has called “unruly crowds.”

Officials have already moved not to extend a midnight curfew that was recently enforced to stem spring breakers.

READ MORE: Miami Beach officials vote not to extend midnight spring break curfew this weekend

Even if the injunction fails in the courts and he’s still forced to shut down, Zubigaray said he won’t stop fighting.

“I’ll be more prepared next year and I will not be caught off guard,” he added. “I’m going to put up a fight...”