Fast food in Aventura? Better look elsewhere

People eating at Aventura Mall’s Treat Hall. (Mariana Vargas/South Florida Media Network)

Do you live in Aventura and want a quick late night meal? You’ll have to head to North Miami or Hallandale Beach.

Aventura may be known for many things, but fast food isn’t one of them. According to the city’s website, there are 2,708 businesses, but not a single one is a McDonald’s, Burger King or Wendy’s.

The last Burger King, located at 2711 NE 187th St., closed in 2011. City Commissioner Gladys Mezrahi said their lease was up and they did not renew it. It is now a PNC bank.

Aventura’s neighbor, North Miami, has the opposite situation. In September, a new drive-thru Wendy’s opened to protests, with angry residents complaining of the traffic it would bring.

“Within walking distance, I have at least five fast food restaurants from my house,” said Laurie Landgrebe, who has been living in North Miami for four years.

She wishes there were healthier options nearby, adding that too many fast food restaurants make the city look bad.

Even younger people are opposed.

“As a college student, I enjoy the price and convenience of fast food, but I am trying to take care of myself and I hate how my only options are greasy burgers and fries,” said 22-year-old Sofia Sanchez, who has lived in North Miami her whole life.

Aventura residents said the lack of fast food joints nearby is inconvenient.

“I don’t see a problem eating junk food once a week, in fact, it’s how I keep in shape. I reward myself once a week and I would love to drive around the corner instead of going to Hallandale,” said Ann Kay, who has lived in Aventura since 1997.

Another resident, Josefina Mendez, agreed. She has lived in Aventura for 13 years.

“I don’t have time to park and go into a restaurant to pick up and a lot of places are overpriced,” she said.

For their part, officials say the city simply hasn’t been approached. City Manager Ronald Wasson said that chain restaurants franchises are very expensive investments and serious market research needs to be done before making a decision to open. He added that the city is proud of its fast-casual options which include Chili’s, Olive Garden and Buffalo Wild Wings.

City Commissioner Gladys Mezrahi said no one is trying to keep fast food out.

“I wouldn’t be opposed to it! I love McDonald’s sundaes,” she said.

Mezrah said she believes that franchise owners look at the eating trends of the community before they decide to open a new restaurant. Perhaps that’s why no one has approached Aventura, she said.

Even the mall is mostly devoid of greasy, high-calorie food.

At the new Aventura Mall Treats Food Hall, what used to be Asian Chao, Tango Grill and Charley’s Subs is now Gogo Fresh, The Little Beet and Zuuk.

Dean Meyerson, a marketing coordinator for Turnberry, the company that owns and operates Aventura Mall, says the aim for the new food court was selecting businesses that offer healthier options.

“It isn’t that we weren’t approached, we sought out the tenants that we wanted,” said Meyerson.

Mariana Vargas is a senior at FIU majoring in journalism. She was born in Bogota, Colombia but grew up in Miami. Her passion for writing led her to journalism. She strives to write stories that bring awareness to special causes and inspire others. She hopes to one day travel the world, writing stories of the different people she encounters.