Forever Shorty’s Bar-B-Q

A nasty rumor made its way to me a few days ago and when I mentioned it to my brother-in-law, he nearly cried. I had heard Shorty’s Bar-B-Q was on the short-timer’s list and was going to close. So, to save taste buds all around South Florida, I went straight to corporate headquarters to investigate. It was there I got the real story.

CEO Mark Vasturo, assured me that Shorty’s is NOT closing. In fact, Shorty’s is doing just fine at its original location (9200 South Dixie Hwy). The confusion set in when the land Shorty’s owns and sits on was recently re-zoned. As rumors often do, it snowballed from there and morphed into fabrication.

So for those of you who have seen three generations of family eat at this South Florida institution, fear not. You can still get those smoky ribs and the rest of Shorty’s superb barbeque menu items. Just as the 1972 fire and Hurricane Andrew didn’t stop Shorty’s, neither will the re-zoning.

Florida Rock Stars

Bordering on the obsessive, two South Florida music lovers vowed more than five years ago to bring back the glory days of live rock & roll music. Friends Richard DiBenedetto and Mickey Filippucci have been hard at work ever since. And the way things are going they just might succeed.

Mr. Nice Guy has performed multiple times at Florida Rock Stars' events

Mr. Nice Guy has performed multiple times at Florida Rock Stars' events

Although both have real jobs, Richard and Mickey’s true passion comes out at their music festivals. It’s always a broad smile and a flurry of activity for these two. They seem to instinctively know what the other is doing at any given time and finish each others sentences. With this easily seen camaraderie and deep, honest passion they’ve earned a legion of loyal followers and fans.

It all started early in 2010 when Richard and Mickey were introduced during a (what else) night of live music. Mickey was and is a guitar player for Head First and Richard came to hear them play. “It was a grassroots thing with mutual friends,” explained Richard, “We quickly discovered our common interest, became friends, and soon thereafter planned our first music festival.”

Cutler Stew playing in Palmetto Bay show

Cutler Stew playing in Palmetto Bay show

DiBenedetto recalls, “Florida Rock Stars was born when we put on the first South Dade Food & Rock Festival at Homestead’s Harris Field Pavilion and got an immediate euphoria. We didn’t even know what we were doing, but we knew we were doing it right.” Filippucci added, “There’s nothing quite like good live music coupled with good food and good people. It’s just a feeling of exhilaration!”

Colbert THe Band always draws a crowd

Colbert THe Band always draws a crowd

As an attendee of many Florida Rock Stars shows, I can tell you there is just something special in the air. It's a feeling of community, doing good and of course exceptional music. During the past five years, I’ve seen their growth and learning experience. Each show is bigger and better, leading them out of Homestead to Palmetto Bay. There’s no question their passion is working and turning heads. Richard and Mickey are putting on shows that inspire attendees, vendors, musicians and towns to do more.

The Regs before Florida Rock Stars South Dade music festival

The Regs before Florida Rock Stars South Dade music festival

“We’re all about community and Palmetto Bay has opened their arms to us,” smiled Richard. “We’ve loved our time in Homestead, but going forward Palmetto Bay is our town.” Florida Rock Stars has settled from a chaotic pace of four shows a year to just two, a Country show in the spring and Rock in the winter. “This allows us to really focus and put on killer shows with the best talent,” explains Mickey.

An important part of the festival show mix is Florida Rock Stars’ commitment to charity. They’ll typically raise and donate over $10,000 to charity each show. And the involvement of local businesses is also paramount. Mickey picked up the mic at a recent show, “Everyone out here, all you business sponsors, all these fans, you guys are all part of this. We love ya!” At the same show County Commissioner Danielle Levine-Cava said, “This feels so intimate. It feels like a community coming together.”

Grayson Rogers Band with screaming fans

Grayson Rogers Band with screaming fans

Making any real money with these shows has been elusive thus far. This is truly a labor of love for both Richard and Mickey. “If it was about the money, we’d have stopped a long time ago. We know we are building something special here,” explained Mickey. Richard added, “Our dream is to bring back good live music and entertain people. I think we’re living that dream.”

If you want to fuel their dream and thoroughly enjoy yourself in the process, circle November 14 on your calendar. The 4th Annual Palmetto Bay Food & Rock Festival runs from 4-11 p.m. You can find out more at Until then, enjoy a few videos I shot over the past few years.

2015 Hurricane Season Is Upon Us

Meteorologist Robert Molleda from the National Weather Service visited Palmetto Bay’s Village Hall on June 15 and spoke about the current hurricane season and how we should deal with it.

He started by showing a slide showing the paths of all the hurricanes that hit Florida since 1865. It looked similar to this photo, but busier. Between 1920-1965 fifteen major hurricanes struck South Florida and since 1966 only four. Since 2005 we’ve been very quiet. But, Molleda added, while we’ve been lucky, this does not mean we should become lax.

This year may be another lucky year because of El Nino. With El Nino, there are high-level winds that tend to sheer off hurricane formation. Because of this and other factors, it is predicted we’ll have a below normal hurricane season.

However, preparation is still important because statistics don't always capture weather reality. Although only 8% of recent significant weather events were hurricanes, 81% of the damage/cost came from hurricanes.

Molleda pointed out that people often forget about flooding, tornado activity and storm surge when thinking about hurricanes. In 1926, an 8-foot storm surge hit Miami Beach and deposited two feet of sand on Collins Avenue. And, during Andrew, the Deering Estate and the old Burger King headquarters had nearly 17-feet of storm surge, raising a boat over a lock and depositing it.

My observation about preparation is that technology has made it far easier. Unlike when Andrew hit us, we now have cell phones, Internet and a variety of additional personal ways to communicate. Also, most gas stations and grocery stores are required to have generators to avoid the possibilities of those two staples from becoming issues after the storm passes. However, we still must do our part if a hurricane warning is issued for our area.

These are the major check-boxes to address:

  1. Know your evacuation zone and plan
  2. Install protection to your home
  3. Trim trees and remove all debris from yard
  4. Backup computer data and send offsite, either via cloud service or physical storage.
  5. Have food, water and medicine for 3-5 days. Consider refrigeration needs.
  6. Make sure to have batteries and charge everything you can

I’ll add a tip that I came up with. Park high and apart. What I mean by this is if a hurricane is coming and your family has more than one car, try to park one at home and one within walking distance. Also, both should be at the highest elevation possible. With hurricanes come rains. The higher you are, the less likely your car will flood.

I'd definitely check out the storm surge simulator that will tell you what to expect at your specific address. You can also check out my hurricane preparedness blog post.