Gone, but not forgotten: The Wharf Miami announces its closing

Outside the The Wharf Miami Photo credit: Ashley Baumgard

After nearly five years of hosting thousands of guests, The Wharf Miami is shutting its doors for good.

A renowned event space and common celebration venue for newly-legal University of Miami students, the closing of this waterfront venue will be making way for the expansion of the Riverside Wharf development.

This new complex, expected to be completed in 2026, will consist of a $185 million ten-story building housing a luxury hotel, a nightclub and rooftop day club, numerous restaurants and several other amenities.

“For students turning 21, entering The Wharf is ‘a rite of passage’” senior political science, sociology and Spanish major Betsy Mullins said. “Everyone knows you cannot go before you’re 21, so once you are, that’s the first place you want to go.”

It has become a go-to destination for socializing with friends and enjoying music, all with a scenic view of the Miami River.

“The space of the Wharf is great…if you want a drink, you go to the bar. You can go get food, or hang out in the outdoor space with friends,” senior marine affairs and international studies major Maya Granderson said.

As a Miami nightlife staple, its closing is bittersweet for frequent visitors, underclassmen and those that will graduate UM without experiencing it.

“I was shocked to see the new development project at the Wharf…I think the Wharf was cute the way it was,” senior marine affairs and international studies major Jacob Esquivel said.

Angela Ansah, a junior at UM studying marketing and business technology, turns 21 in November, after The Wharf’s closing.

“The Wharf is the Disneyland of UM, and it feels like I am missing out on an opportunity that everyone does at UM,” Ansah said.

The Wharf Miami will continue to operate under normal business hours until Saturday, Sept. 16.

Newer venues are gaining popularity to fill the void, including Regatta Grove in Coconut Grove, opened by The Wharf’s Breakwater Hospitality Group. It shares a similar concept to The Wharf with an open-air layout and food stands.

“Because Miami has such nice weather, and in the evenings it’s still warm, people enjoy being outside a lot more,” said Granderson. “Regatta has a bunch of tables and games, which is fun, and it’s closer to campus so Ubers are cheaper.”

However, some students argue that this new venue may not capture the essence and memories The Wharf once did.

“People have been saying that Regatta Grove is the same thing, but I was just looking forward to going to The Wharf and seeing what everyone is talking about,” Ansah said.

The Wharf Miami will celebrate its closing weekend with a two-day event themed “The Closing Parties: Bon Voyage,” on September 15 and 16, reliving the venue’s most iconic events. From specialty cocktails to themed décor, as well as the chance to spin-and-win Wharf merchandise, it is sure to be a celebratory send-off worthy of this iconic venue.