After two and a half years, the little hangout space that could couldn’t any longer.
The nationally-recognized Paradis Books & Bread in North Miami a cozy bakery and café, wine bar and shop, leftist book store and chill space to hang out with friends has closed for good.
Owners Bianca Sanon and brother-and-sister team Brian and Audrey Wright announced the news on Instagram, where they asked for “space and respect of our privacy at this time,” and also in a lengthy, heartfelt message on the Paradis website.
Paradis, located at 12831 West Dixie Highway, drew a core of loyal fans by serving pizzas on its house-baked sourdough bread, hosting music and movie nights and watch parties for Miami Heat games. They also created a wine club, and in 2022, Esquire called Paradis one of the best wine bars in the country. In its April 2023 issue touting Miami as the food city of the year, Bon Appétit highlighted it as one of the hot spots in town, writing that it wasn’t “just another trendy wine bar” and calling it “an always-inviting space.”
“We’re not trying to become millionaires,” Sanon told the Miami Herald when Paradis opened in the summer of 2021. “We just want people to come and hang out.”
In their website message, the owners cited no single reason for the closure but offered many, writing “It’s a whole tangled knot of things, issues that both stand alone and compound one another, ultimately making this project unsustainable for us.”
When Paradis opened with help from a matching grant of $150,000 from the North Miami Community Redevelopment Agency, five co-founders shared the collective responsibility of running the space. But eventually two of the founders, Sef Chesson and Ben Yen, left, leaving Sanon and the Wrights to operate the space on their own with the help of part-time volunteers.
Personal developments also played a part in the decision to close, they wrote. The Wrights had to take on care-giving duties for their mother, and Sanon lost her father, an emotional blow.
The Wrights and Sanon were also still coping with fallout from an incident in 2023 involving conservative Fox News analyst Gianno Caldwell. On a Fox & Friends Weekend segment, Caldwell said that while having breakfast there, he and his friends were told they weren’t welcome because their politics “do not align.”
According to the café’s statement, Caldwell and group spoke loudly about “women in degrading ways” and used “eugenic arguments around their thoughts on Roe v. Wade.”
“Once it was clear that they were finished with their meal, we told them that our views don’t align, and that the language they were using was unwelcome in our space,” the statement said.
The owners said they were still being harassed about the incident long afterward, even though they shifted the shop’s Instagram setting to private, added privacy screens on its gates and changed hours so that nobody ever worked alone. Still, the experience left a mark.
“While we’re honored by all the political ways Paradis has touched and emboldened people, we’ve struggled with the reality that having a highly visible leftist space that also needs to operate as a business is extremely challenging,” they wrote.
In the end, though, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome was Miami’s expectations. As the city’s reputation as a food town grew and the inclusion of Paradis on best restaurant lists increased, so did the demand for a more food-centered experience, which is something the owners never intended. Discontinuing the popular pizzas on the menu added up to fewer customers.
“While we’ve filled Paradis with our favorite books and wines, most people really just wanted the pizza,” they wrote. “Our food program completely eclipsed every other aspect of the place. . . . 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.”