Food & Drink Miami News

Rio Cristal is saved!

Rio Cristal Restaurant

After plans to close its doors after 46 years in the restaurant industry, Rio Cristal will remain open.

Rio Cristal, an iconic Cuban landmark on sw 40th street and has now officially been saved after everyone thought it had served its last meal for the past 46 years in the business. The restaurant is known for its traditional Cuban cuisine and signature dishes like the Super Rio Cristal, which features a Palomilla steak served under a pile of French fries. 

The popular eatery had been struggling financially due to the required closure of indoor dining, like many other restaurants. The Acosta family, who owned and operated the restaurant, almost decided to close in July, but decided to give one last month of quality food to its patrons, deciding it was better to close down the restaurant at the end of August. 

Now, Ely Acosta, the daughter of the founder Jose C. Acosta, has plans to buy out her mother and brother, becoming the sole owner of the restaurant. 

rio cristal restaurant inside - Rio Cristal is saved!

Ely Acosta notes that her mother’s daily efforts to keep the restaurant running were no match for City of Miami officials and the “constant flip-flopping” on the rules for dining in. In addition, rent did not go down after indoor dining was closed, and Rio Cristal’s location allowed no space for outdoor seating. The restaurant was out of options, prior to Ely’s decision.

Many other local, family-owned restaurants have experienced this same hardship, with over 16,000 restaurants nationwide shutting their doors for good since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March. Unfortunately, they have not been saved like Rio Cristal has. 

Patrons love Rio Cristal due to their “old school” vibes, according to food blogger Sef Gonzalez, who added that the clothing that their servers wore made the restaurant feel like home for many Hispanic customers. Now, customers can enjoy these aspects once again.

In fact, customers valued the restaurant so much that they began a Go Fund Me page for locals to donate to save the restaurant. Unfortunately, while the Acosta family appreciated the effort, Ely Acosta has said they would close regardless, but that decision changed.

So, after 46 years, Rio Cristal, like many families, has fought its battle with COVID-19—and won.

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