Miami restaurant faces charges for farm-to-table scam

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a complaint against a Miami restaurant, Icebox Cafe, for misleading patrons that it sold locally-sourced food. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a complaint against a Miami restaurant, Icebox Cafe, for misleading patrons that it sold locally-sourced food. [CHRIS URSO | Times]
Published May 5 2018
Updated May 5 2018

A local restaurant in Miami faces charges for allegedly claiming ingredients on their menu were locally sourced, when they were not.

Attorney Genera Pam Bondi filed a complaint Friday against Icebox Cafe and Icebox Cafe at MIA, LLC, for supplying non-locally sourced or sustainable products but claiming so on restaurant menus, according to a press release. Icebox Cafe at MIA is a "self-proclaimed farm-to-table" eatery, the release stated, but Bondiís complaint says the company misled customers by claiming the restaurant received a state certification to be a local provider and sold local products. A national food distributor, SYSCO, provides the restaurant with the bulk of their food, the release said.

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The restaurant claimed to have sold produce from Paradise Farms in Homestead, but had no record of purchase from the farm, was one example cited in the complaint. Another said that the restaurant offered wild salmon on the menu but had no invoices to substantiate that claim. The complaint also said that the restaurant falsely professed to creating "garden-to-glass" and "farm-to-bar" craft cocktails with ingredients picked from a nearby garden.

Farm-to-table is a hot trend in restaurant scenes around the country, as consumers opt to pay more to support local businesses and for fresh, organic food offerings. Bondiís office, as well as the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, are investigating the business practices of farm-to-table restaurants across the state to ensure consumers are not being deceived.

RELATED COVERAGE: Bondiís office investigating restaurant claims, state stepping up inspections

The Icebox Cafe is in violation of Floridaís Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, the release said, for making false or misleading statements as well as omitting material regarding food products sold.

The Icebox Cafe, located at 1855 Purdy Ave., on Miami Beach, has been in business since 1998, according to its website. The site says the menu includes "grass-fed and pasture-raised meats and poultry, sustainable fish and produce." The owner, Robert Siegmann, also runs a dessert and cake shop out of the restaurant.

Bondiís complaint seeks permanent injunctive relief. The companies may also face civil penalties. # # #

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