UPDATE: Chef/owner Kris Wessel provides the following comment: “I didn’t give up Red Light by choice. The eviction was a technique so landlords didn’t have to give me a renewed lease. I was in the option year and they didn’t offer the renewal. Anyone who knows me knows I loved Red Light.”
The name Red Light was meant to describe the neighborhood, a seedy stretch of Biscayne Boulevard at 77th street, across from the glowing marquee of an even seedier strip club (once known as Black Gold, then At The Boulevard, now Wonderland, why do we know this?). Sometimes the name Red Light described the speed of service, oftentimes crawling. But sadly, it appears to describe the color of the closed sign that will now grace its door.
Red Light is no more. It has been closed for a three-week hiatus while chef/owner Kris Wessel went to open up his new spot, Florida Cookery, at a tony hotel on South Beach. But on October 24, 2012, the landlord filed an eviction complaint, and we’re hearing that the restaurant is closed for good. No final hurrah, no last chance to order the BBQ shrimp, fish dip, gumbo, conch chowder, and the like. Fortunately, some of these items will be reappearing on the Florida Cookery menu, so at least we can look forward to a late November opening at the James Hotel on Collins Avenue and 15th Street.
Red Light was one of our favorites, a stalwart in the top 5 of our power rankings and a recipient of several well-deserved accolades, including a semifinalist nod for the regional James Beard chef award a couple of years back. The restaurant was obviously a labor of love for Wessel, who cleaned up the river along which it resides with his bare hands. It will be missed.