Much of Old Cutler Road is a beautiful thoroughfare, lined with trees and stately homes. It’s not known for its commercial centers until you get deep into Cutler Bay.
The Old Cutler Center, along Old Cutler Road, is a nicely appointed retail center with a mix of service stores and restaurants. It’s home to Starbucks, Sir Pizza, Galloway Cleaners, Marce’s Hair and Nail.
It’s somewhat different from what owner Lewis A. Fraser envisioned when he bought the property. Initially, he planned to open a 220-seat restaurant. He and his son had been in the cruise business doing catering and feeding passengers for 37 years. Nineteen of those years had been with Royal Caribbean.
“My son convinced me that the restaurant business ashore is different,” he said.
Not only that, but there were parking issues that would have required a countywide vote in order to use some of the spaces at Deering Estates. That would have been an expensive and time-consuming proposition with no guarantee of a successful outcome.
So Fraser put aside the restaurant idea and went about filling the shopping center at 7290 SW 168 St. He brought back Galloway Cleaners, which had been a longtime tenant. The ownership was happy to be able to come back.
Starbucks is the second largest tenant in the center. It’s become the place where friends meet for a cup of coffee and is even the “office” for several successful children’s book writers. In fact, Young Adult author Danielle Joseph goes there to write three times a week. With young children at home, Joseph enjoys the quieter and welcoming atmosphere of the coffee shop. She and her children will sometimes walk to the center in the cooler months for hot chocolate. The family also enjoys the pizza from Sir Pizza.
“They did a really great job on the Starbucks,” Fraser said. “During the day you’ll see them reading a book or just relaxing. The heavy traffic time is in the morning, for about three hours. And then afternoons, after school.”
Fraser said there are groups of students and parents who meet at Starbucks and then on weekends they get a lot of bikers and hikers and a pretty good flow of business.
Sir Pizza is a fairly recent addition to the center. The restaurant mostly caters to the take-out crowd but also has some tables for eat-in diners.
“We’ve had studies made, with the flow, we anticipate Sir Pizza will have afternoon and evening traffic,” he said.
Marce’s Hair Salon and Spa, is a new state-of-the-art salon. Previously, the space was occupied by Wellbeing Spa and Yoga, but the spa/yoga concept didn’t draw quite enough patrons, so the owners decided to renovate the space to make it a salon and spa instead. Fraser said he expects the salon to be open by Sept. 1.
“The spa did okay,” Fraser said. “But they are in business to make a profit. The owners are good quality people from Argentina and they’ve operated hotels and vineyards. Whatever happens there, it’s going to be good.”
Fraser is happy because the center will soon be fully leased. The last piece of the puzzle is an ice cream, yogurt type store, which should be open in the next few months.
Joseph said she and her kids cannot wait for that shop to open.