Monday, May 7, 2012

Riverside Market Café battles Fort Lauderdale taxi tycoon

Riverside Market Café
608 S.W. 12th Ave
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Take out and delivery available
Open daily 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. except for Friday and Saturday when open until 11 p.m.
 By Jane Feehan

A David and Goliath bidding battle over a small piece of land and a tip about some good food compelled me to visit the Riverside Market Café near downtown Fort Lauderdale last week.  

It’s a neighborhood joint, accessible by the historic 11th Avenue swing bridge,* that owner Julian Siegel has sunk his heart and soul into for more than six years. Riverside Market is not just about its selection of 500 specialty beers, great sandwiches, salads, flatbread pizzas, steaks and subs that loyal patrons fill tables for; it’s a community asset, replacing a string of unsuccessful retail shops that served more as blight than anything else.

There’s something about the café that reminds me of a Texas icehouse. It’s casual with a neighborly intimacy that encourages socializing among a wide swath of characters: long-time residents with more community history than money, professionals attracted to the nearby New River and its boats, and business types from downtown seeking a non-traditional lunch break.

Riverside Market Café may be looking at its last days, thanks to a challenge by taxi and real estate powerhouse, Jesse Gaddis. Siegel needs a a small piece of city surplus property between a Gaddis-owned building and the café for parking.  Patrons of the café have been parking on the empty lot for years; Siegel needs sufficient parking to maintain his license to serve. The small building next to the lot, a foreclosure taken
Snow-Reed Bridge*
over by Gaddis, already has sufficient parking spaces on one side.  Siegel and Gaddis each submitted bids to the city. Fort Lauderdale decided in favor of Gaddis but the bid prompted so many questions about its propriety that it was thrown out. It will be held again but by the city’s finance department instead of its real estate office. The story could be as much about high-profile influence over the city as it is about this particular bidding incident.

Support Julian Siegel and his Riverside Market Café -- and the Riverside Park community; dine there and make new friends. A picturesque city park lies nearby. I’ll be back … and I’ll be watching the next bidding process, when it's announced, ever so closely.

 *The Snow-Reed Swing Bridge is one of the oldest bridges in the Fort Lauderdale area, and one of the few remaining swing bridges in Florida. Located between the 300 and 500 block of Southwest 11th (Palm) Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the bridge connects the neighborhoods of Sailboat Bend and Riverside Park.
For more on this swing bridge, see:

Tags: casual dining in Fort Lauderdale, historic neighborhoods of Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale land bidding process, swing bridges in Florida, restaurants in Fort Lauderdale


Mike Miller said...

All of the years I've been knocking around Fort Lauderdale and I never knew this was here. I want to try it next time I'm in town.

I've been up to the swing bridge many times in my boat, but never have driven over it in a car. This will be a new adventure!

Anonymous said...

Great article! I'm a homeowner in the neighborhood (Sailboat Bend), and a very loyal patron of the Riverside Market - it would be devastating to our community if our "second home" were forced to close. Thank you for supporting the Market!