Fire gutted their popular tiki hut. Here’s how a Palmetto Bay seafood restaurant will adapt

·2 min read
Roberto Koltun/rkoltun@miamiherald.com

When Courtney Reeder first heard about the July 4 fire at her family’s Golden Rule seafood market and restaurant, she thought about all that might have been lost — all because of an errant firework.

“This building holds so much of our family history,” Reeder said.

The fish market, open since 1943 in Palmetto Bay, is where her grandfather started working as a bag boy at age 12, three years after it opened, before he bought it in the 1960s.

It’s where her parents, Walter Flores and Pamela Mullins, worked as teenagers, before they took it over in the ‘90s, and where her brothers, aunts and uncles still provide fresh seafood as commercial fishermen. And it’s where the family hunkered down during Hurricane Andrew and rebuilt after it was damaged.

However, a fire set the cypress and dried palm thatch roof ablaze Monday night. And it was caused by fireworks, a Miami-Dade County fire spokesperson said.

The market was closed for the holiday and a firefighter was treated for injuries. But Reeder, who now runs the market, is determined to rebuild the tiki hut destroyed out back. It served as the business’ primary seating since 2017 — a key feature during the pandemic.

The market inside was not damaged. Staff quickly set up tables inside and reopened Tuesday morning.

“We’re adjusting,” Reeder said. “Hopefully we’ll come back stronger than before.”

Most of the staff rushed to the restaurant, at 17505 S. Dixie Hwy., late Monday night in time to watch firefighters keep the fire from leaping to the main building, Reeder said. Longtime patrons joined them Tuesday morning, putting in to-go orders and buying up inventory to help the family offset some of the loss, Reeders said.

“The amount of support is overwhelming,” said Reeder, whose Instagram and Facebook posts drew hundreds of likes and messages of support.

The loss of the tiki hut is a huge hit for the restaurant, which has been part of the market since 2014, Reeder said. They are setting up seating inside for the first time since the pandemic forced restaurants to set up outdoor dining rooms. But she said the focus will be building a new tiki hut as soon as possible.

“That’s where our guests want to be,” Reeder said. “We want to provide that for the community. It has been the location of so many birthdays, graduations and special moments.”