By Lisa W. Hopper
Although Restaurants Abound, Residents Are Starved for Attention
Kendall, Miami's restaurant-studded enclave that rose in popularity in the 1980’s and 1990’s as an affordable housing solution for the burgeoning Yuppie community, has recently been voted The Number #1 Suburb in America to Raise a Family. But residents see it differently.
Rosita Juana Eserbas, 84, says, “I’d say a more accurate designation is ‘The Number One Place to IGNORE Family.’ After my husband died, my son moved into my 3-bedroom house with his wife and kids, telling me that I should live with family and didn’t need all this space. The next thing I know, they moved me out of my own home into this tiny condo, and now I never see any of them.”
Kendall area high schools have reported to the Miami-Dade School Board that in recent years the number of kids seeking meetings with school guidance counselors has risen, 63% in the last year alone. And what do the counselors report as the main reason for seeking sessions with them? Attention. “These kids are basically living alone,” reports Cantlissa Ennimore, a guidance counselor at Kendall West High School. “Their friends are always on their phones. Their teachers—also on their phones—assign them work requiring internet research and intranet-based learning modules. Both of their parents work and their siblings are locked in their rooms playing video games. These kids are starving for human contact and attention.”
“The next thing I know, they moved me out of my own home into this tiny condo, and now I never see any of them.”
Kendall’s Number #1 ranking came from a study released Thursday from The Wellsley Berpshire Institute on Family, touting Kendall as being the idyllic, ideal suburb. A recent episode of the TV series This Old Townhouse also mentioned Kendall as a haven for the bargain-shopping DIY multitudes due to the vast numbers of run-down cookie-cutter condo community units available for purchase, remodeling, and flipping for a quick buck.
Residents declare that Kendall is nothing but a bunch of people jammed together in a box-like, rat maze, with lots of great restaurants, a couple of movie theaters, and some stores.
Uber Eats driver, Haspo Usten, 36, says that the majority of his business consists of making deliveries from Kendall restaurants to customers often just around the block from the dining establishment. “Half the time, I don’t even see the people I deliver food to—I just see a hand sticking out of the townhouse door reaching for the bag of food. It’s not hard to steal French fries or a half a sandwich from a hand,” Usten says, wiping his mouth with his sleeve.
There is a general consensus among those living in Kendall, that—if it wasn’t for rush-hour traffic jams on work days—there’d be no way of knowing just how many people do live in Kendall. As for the rest of Miami residents, they never go to Kendall and mostly ignore the whole area.
Lisa W. Hopper is a freelance journalist and staff writer for The Plantain. After writing this article, she stopped having her meals delivered, has taken a vegan cooking class, and now prepares her meals at home. She lives in north Dade County and has only ever gone to Kendall to interview residents for this article. She plans never to go there again—the traffic was terrible.