"Miami Beach is built for storms."
Mango’s Tropical Cafe, a Miami-Dade County nightclub and restaurant, has weathered yet another major storm.
The South Beach destination has been around for almost three decades, serving libations and hosting live entertainment every night into the wee hours of the morning. But during Hurricane Irma, Mango had to close its doors in preparation of the category-five storm. A somber task owner David Wallack has become all too familiar with, considering the fact that this isn’t the first time he’s had to board up the restaurant’s windows and doors.
When Hurricane Andrew pummeled South Florida in 1992—leveling and damaging more than 100,000 homes—Mango’s was among the structures left standing along the stretch of colorful buildings lining the South’s most exciting beach community.
"The buildings blocked things out and trees took the damage," Wallack told ABC News. "Miami Beach is built for storms."
Which is why before Irma wielded her hardest blows to downtown Miami and the Florida Keys, Wallack knew what to expect and how to prepare, having survived Hurricane Andrew nearly 26 years ago.
"You don't go into a battle thinking you're not going to get it," Wallack said. "You go into it trained—head on—and you do everything as safely and as carefully as you know how to do it."
For Wallack and his staff, that meant taking the necessary precautions and going back to check on the building, even while Irma raged.
"We were able to get over here even during the hurricane, but it was very, very dangerous out," he said. "The wind was whipping over 110 miles per hour. We saw one person blowing away in the street, who shouldn't have been out there. We almost had to go out there and rescue him, but he finally got up, made it over to a wall, and into a safe area."
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Wallack referred to Irma's size and its eye wall as "unprecedented," adding that Miami Beach was "very lucky" to have avoided the trail of devastation left behind in the Keys and Naples, Florida.
"The outer wall that we caught didn't give us the real bang and eastern punch that would've drowned us." said Wallack. "The dune held the line."
Those dune restoration efforts are what Wallack believes spared his restaurant. Since Mango’s only suffered minimal damage, Wallack plans to re-open on Thursday, September 14, welcoming his patrons and those Floridians he refers to as “resilient rebuilders” with open arms—and maybe even a cocktail or two.
"Our job is to see it, suffer through it, and rebuild," he said. "The survivors rebuild."