Hey there,

Audrey, Brian, and Bianca here. We have made the heavy decision not to reopen paradis, and this is our way of letting you know why. We’ve come to the end of the line, and we’re ending this project on our own terms. To our haters, we suppose congratulations are in order, so you can go ahead and stop reading now! But, to those who have loved us, supported our many changes, laughed with us, danced with us, and maybe even cried with us, we wanted to give you this parting explanation, as well as a wholehearted thank you.

As much as closing our doors is a decision on which we are unwavering, it is not one that we came to easily, nor one that we take lightly. Paradis has been our goal and our dream for the better part of a decade, and we poured everything we had into it. When we first walked into the small box of a building that is now paradis, it was a cramped and disheveled computer supply warehouse surrounded in generic landscaping shrubs, with a broken-down van just behind the back door. We saw the future in it, and built it into something new. We filled the place with our favorite books and some of our most coveted wines, and learned to make bread on a larger scale. Since opening, paradis has taken on the shape of a heavily lived-in place, a tapestry of memories. The floors and upholstery bear the markings of stains that just won’t come out. The side beams of two of the wine shelves have turned into makeshift cork-board walls, housing fliers for local actions, organizations, and bands, as well as short and sweet love notes to paradis in the form of letters and doodles drawn in moments of whimsy by patrons. On a shelf above the bar, a lineup of adorable trinkets rest above the vegetable ferments as they sour, gifts from beloved customers-turned-friends. This is all to say, we poured ourselves entirely into this place, we’ve grown up in it, we’ve learned tremendously from it, we’ve made friendships that we intend to make last our lifetimes, and yet we can no longer operate it anymore.

The explanation for our closing truly isn’t just one reason, or one problem that we can point to and blame; it is a whole tangled knot of things, issues that both stand alone and compound one another, ultimately making this project unsustainable for us. Some of the main reasons that we need to close are deeply personal, and they’re the most important ones insofar as paradis is, afterall, a very personal project. Paradis has always been an owner-operated business, and, while we were once a team of five, we’ve been a team of just three for quite some time now. Making this place run when there were five of us was always challenging and emotional, as bringing different personalities and work ethics together towards one goal can be. The gradual disintegration of our team brought up a lot of difficult conversations, compromises, and, ultimately, the singular heartbreak of long-held friendships ending. While we have had various friends work part-time at paradis helping us push through busy service nights and “volunteering” during our parties, everything else has landed in our laps. It was never our intention to hire a different team of people, nor has it been ultimately sustainable, because what paradis has always required was an equal sharing of responsibilities, both during service and when the doors are closed.

We certainly knew we were on an ambitious path in opening paradis in the way we had envisioned it but what we couldn’t prepare for was the extent to which our personal lives would change over the last few years, requiring more out of us than we could ever have expected. In the months before opening, Brian and Audrey had to take on an unexpected caretaking role for their loving and hilarious mother, as she's had to battle what can really only be described as a whack-a-mole of medical crises and conditions. If you know us personally, you probably have an understanding of what our schedules have looked like over the years, specifically when it comes to caring for her while running paradis; suffice it to say that navigating our deeply alienating medical system is often an unpaid, full-time job. This year also brought immense grief to our lives when Bianca lost her father, a grand presence in her life, whose sudden absence called us to reorient our personal life and priorities. For our family, such a loss demands to be honored with attention, time, and clarity.

These deeply personal hardships were made all the more difficult to navigate due to the stressful and scary way 2023 started. As many of you who’ve followed us likely know, at the beginning of last year we had an incident with a Fox News anchor which resulted in being ceaselessly harassed by their followers, even to this day. After being targeted, we didn’t know if we would reopen again, and when we did, we knew we had to do our best to minimize potential harm to us and our community. Since then, we’ve had our Instagram on private, put privacy screens on the gates outside, and changed our hours to make sure no one was working alone while we were operating. Even so, the fear of both our space and the sweet community of radical people who come here being targeted, never left. While we’re honored by all the political ways paradis has touched and emboldened people, people who fight for a better world even and especially in a place like Florida, we’ve struggled with the reality that having a highly visible leftist space that also needs to operate as a business is extremely challenging. The journey we’ve been on has changed our lives, changed who we are, and also changed how much of a priority running paradis can reasonably be.Truth be told, if our lives outside of paradis were easy and uncomplicated, this model would just maybe be sustainable, or maybe we’d have more of a capacity to mold it into something better, but unfortunately that hasn’t been the case.

In our initial vision for paradis, we wanted to build a place to put all of our favorite things and passions: books, wine, sourdough bread, and music. We believed that putting all of these things together would encourage and facilitate people coming together to learn, exchange, and share. We knew from the beginning that this would be an experimental place, not only a restaurant, not just a bar, not simply a bookstore, and we’ve had to take it a day at a time and be open to learning many lessons and changing things as we go. Opening paradis has given us the unparalleled feeling of bringing something that was once a collection of ideas into a physical reality, an experience made all the better by being able to do so from the very beginning with the help and love of some of our closest friends, whose baby photos operated as the cutest little table markers. We’ve been greatly honored and surprised by the sorts of things paradis has been able to accomplish.

Paradis became an integral part of the natural wine world in Miami, where we not only got to bring in beautifully-made wines that we’ve been ecstatic about for years, but also got to share them with people in what we hoped was an accessible, unpretentious, and approachable way. We’ve always been thrilled to see how many people enjoyed being a part of our wine club, and would come eagerly to the tastings with curiosity and engagement. Beyond our customers, we received tremendous support from a community of committed and passionate wine folks in Florida, some of whom have deeply supported us since before we even opened our doors and who we know will remain lifelong friends. We were honored to host the second installment of the ABV (Anything But Vinifera) wine fair, a labor of love offered up by some of our dearest friends in the wine world across the country, who are bringing important discussions of decolonization, race, indigeneity, and justice into the wine community. We’ve gotten to stock and occasionally be featured in the wine zine Visions, from the folks at Psychic Wines, which served as a fun marker on the shop counter, bridging South Florida to other wine lovers across the country as well.

To our amazement, we have been recognized by publications we’ve long-admired, such as Bon Appetit and Wine Enthusiast; we’ve appreciated anyone who saw something special in us, even if at times we’re an odd fit on lists with more traditional restaurants. It’s been an often funny delight to have people love our food, especially some of the desserts, since we’ve always just tried to do our best to make homey and love-filled food. Making bread everyday has been a fun challenge, and sharing it with folks who really appreciate it has been thrilling. Watching people browse, engage with, share, and slowly read through the books we’ve had on offer at the space always brought a smile to our faces, and we never took it for granted. Finally, getting to celebrate and enjoy with everyone, especially during our anniversary parties, has been pure kismet; we could’ve never anticipated playing host while people came together to so joyfully dance and laugh and sing as some of our favorite DJs spread palpable and infectious joy through music. These were moments we’ll truly never forget. Overall, what we’ve found is that trying to cram all of our passions and wishes into one business and one space has been a wacky experiment that has been extremely fun and surprisingly successful in a lot of important ways. 

Nevertheless, a valuable lesson we have learned is that in trying to juggle everything, nothing gets the attention it’s due. While it’s been fun and sometimes successful to try to do it all, the reality is that we’ve had trouble giving every aspect equal time and work. These unbalanced scales were always exacerbated by Miami’s shockingly high demand for food and the pressure put on us to operate as a restaurant. While we’ve filled paradis with our favorite books and wines, most people really just wanted the pizza. Our food program completely eclipsed every other aspect of the place both in what people usually wanted from the space and in what we had to spend most of our time doing. One of the opening visions of paradis was an attempt to open a food establishment of sorts that shifted the usual rules of service, in which the customer is certainly not always right, and food service workers are treated with their due respect. We genuinely envisioned our food program to be an addendum to the space, where someone who was reading or sharing a bottle with friends could also eat something filling, yummy, and affordable. Despite our intentions, it became increasingly clear that our customers primarily wanted a food-centered experience, and we watched fewer people support us day-to-day as we limited our menu to be more in line with our capacities. In tandem with this demand, came an unacceptable amount of disrespect, all-too-familiar to any seasoned service worker, but ultimately at odds with the alternative project we were proposing. This is not to downplay or disregard all of the wonderful folks who came in for everything paradis had to offer, or to say that we don’t appreciate the love people had for our bread and other food, but rather to clairfy that we never wanted to be the kind of food-service establishment we had become, and to acknowledge that the kind of third space we envisioned may not be fully possible in this place and time.

This year, with all its acute exhaustion, grief, loss, heartbreak, and challenges, has forced us to take an account of everything that was working and all of the things that certainly weren't. But wow, are we thankful for everything that worked. For the deep, fun, complicated, new and old friendships; for our dear friends who have DJ’d in our space, especially NCJ; for the sweet and warm regulars who have brightened our days more than you all could know; for Yarn Club Sundays, open mic nights, and  Miami Heat playoff runs; for the dancing and the joy; for every laugh; for every appreciative and loving word; for every shared hardship and exchange of thoughts; for the sharing of food and wine amongst strangers who eventually become family – we are so deeply grateful for it all. For the Jewish Voice for Peace, for the Third World Feminism School, for the DSA, for everyone who made paradis a political home, a space of learning, exchange, organizing, and trying to create a new and better world. We are deeply and truly sorry we cannot be that physical place for you anymore. As hard as we tweaked and tried to refine it, we just couldn’t make this place sustainable, workable, or fulfilling for us. We felt ourselves compromising too much and too often, becoming too exhausted to do good and genuine work. It’s time for a change, and this is it.

Paradis, on its very best day, has been an experiment towards an otherwise. An experiment in connection, in “speaking our thoughts into being,” in hope, in rage, in love. In a society such as ours, it is a constant fight to be connected, to be supported, to live. Any project that attempts towards an otherwise is indeed a hard-fought experiment, and we have to keep fighting and attempting and tweaking and failing and trying again. Paradis, like other political spaces before it, are projects that often don’t last forever. They squeeze themselves uncomfortably into the vestments of a business model until the seams eventually burst. They’re often deeply personal spaces, and when those persons or personal circumstances change, the space and the project must transform with them. Interdependence and care are incredibly difficult things to instill into a business model, but we’ve tried our best to do just that. If this place has truly touched you, it’s likely these tenets were reaching out to pull you in. As many of you who have been conspiring with us at paradis over the years already are and have been, we urge us all to continue to reorient ourselves purposefully and lovingly to the world and to commit to others, to question, to study. It’s ok that it’s ending, ok that it failed, because failure is momentary, clarifying, and fortifying. The heart of paradis, the intent, the ideas of it, remain always. It is a building, and not. It is, moreso, a community of people who have come and gone and come back again, revolutionary ideas and intentions and attempts that never end.

Live Laugh Love,
Team PBB <3 

After Aphrodite Desiree Navab’s Super East-West Woman

by Zaina Alsous

The dervish in me can’t let go of my addiction
to theory. So many ways to explain
the tragedy of devotion; all the names of God
held captive by I. Come inside my blue cocoon,
lavish in a curiosity the state disputes. I didn’t say
I was really about that life. I said blue, not blew.
Heaven isn’t a happy ending, you know?
Heaven is crawling inside of a mirror and redraw-
ing with obsidian edges to kill off crystal growth.
I never wanted to be a lava angel or a good example.
When I say home, I mean origin as a transitive verb.
When I say love, I mean these miracles are work.