Ever since the Lake Patricia Shopping Center opened in the southeast corner of Miami Lakes
in 1964, customers have remained loyal to the businesses that have served them through storms and a pandemic.
Domenico’s Italian Restaurant opened the year before Hurricane Wilma smacked South Florida.
Brothers Antonino Maurici and Giuseppe Maurici went to check on their restaurant and deli and began cooking for folks who didn’t have electricity or the ability to use credit cards or ATMs.
Lines of hungry neighbors stretched the length of the parking lot at 13975 N.W. 67th Ave.
For a week, some of those diners got Domenico’s pastas or thin crust pizza pies with fresh tomato sauce for free; some paid the business back later on.
“We helped a lot of people who didn’t have cash,” Antonino Maurici said. “We just said, ‘Just take the food.’”
Years later, that fresh tomato sauce and the brothers’ human touch keep their customers coming back.
On a recent Tuesday afternoon at The Miami Lakes Barber Shop, owner Richard Ruiz was trimming the hair of Jimmy Flanigan, owner of the Flanigan’s Seafood Bar & Grill chain.
A customer of the shop for more than a quarter century, Flanigan said, “It’s the best service around. I love coming here.”
Ruiz’s uncle Rolando Ruiz bought the business in 1966 from The Graham Companies, which developed the complex.
Ruiz’s father Mario Ruiz bought it from his uncle, and Ruiz took it over in 2005 when his father retired.
The locks of men with famous names who have lived in town – Shula, Schnellenberger and Graham among them – have fallen onto the shop’s floor.
“This business is a part of Miami Lakes history and part of Miami Lakes’ growth,” Ruiz said. “We’ve seen four generations of customers come here for a haircut.”
And when non-essential businesses were allowed to reopen during the pandemic, people lined up to get groomed.
“Customers showed their support,” he said.
Carolina Carletti, owner of Prime Cleaners, bought the six-decades old business nearly five years ago.
A Miami Laker, Carletti said, “I love Miami Lakes. I love to have the business here.”
She said her customers are loyal, too.
“From businesspeople to teachers, our customers are supportive of the business,” she said.
Jesus Mendez, 25, said he goes to the Subway shop “at least three times a week” for their turkey and ham sandwiches.
“They are the best around,” he said.
Other businesses in the shopping center are: Chase Bank; CR Liquor by Clark; The Nail Garden; Always at Your Side Adult Day Care; Vicky Bakery; Innovaciones Beauty Salon and Miami Lakes A+ Day Care.