Design, location key to restaurant development in SoFla: panel

Bisnow restaurant panel at 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach
Bisnow restaurant panel at 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach

The intersection of food and design was a hot topic at a Bisnow event exploring restaurant and hotel development in South Florida on Thursday.

Elements like reclaimed wood and Edison light bulbs are part of an ongoing design trend in hospitality, according to a panel at the event, held at 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach.

“Design is critical. It’s the first thing that hits you when you walk in the door [of a restaurant],” said panelist Eddie Acevedo, COO of Miami-based 50 Eggs.

Panelists also explored trends in restaurant and hotel development in Miami, offering insight into trendy neighborhoods like Wynwood.

“People think ‘oh, reclaimed wood. You’re so hipster.’ Not really, it came from [Panther owner] Joel’s dad’s garage. We needed something to absorb the sound,” Panther co-owner Leticia Pollock said.

Panther Coffee, which has locations in Sunset Harbour and Wynwood, and whose products are offered at a number of local hotels and restaurants, has plans to open new shops in MiMo and Little Haiti. In addition, the roastery is opening a store its Coconut Grove location next week, Leticia Pollock said. Panther is joining Harry’s Pizzeria and the Clyde Butcher gallery at the Engle building, at 2980 McFarlane Road.

“We wouldn’t open somewhere we’re not relevant,” she said.

A retail component is also in the works for Panther’s Little Haiti location on the corner of Northwest 59th Terrace. In Little Haiti, “we’re going to be able to expand our wholesale operation and have our education lab,” she said. “We’re excited to be in a new, happening neighborhood again.”

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Nearby Panther’s planned MiMo location is the home of 50 Eggs’ new headquarters and test kitchen.

“We believe restaurants are a cornerstone for a great community. People need refuge, and that’s what restaurants are,” Acevedo said.

50 Eggs is the hospitality group behind Yardbird, BTW and Khong River House in Miami Beach, and Swine in Coral Gables. Acevedo said that development can be challenging when restaurateurs hit infrastructure and bureaucratic roadblocks. “If we paid attention and made it a little easier, there would probably be more development,” he said.

New and planned development, though, is a result of Miami’s transformation into an international city, panelists said.

“Miami is not as seasonal as it was,” said panelist Sharif Ayad, president of ID & Design International. “We’re building up all of this concentration and density in Miami’s urban core, and the people who work here obviously can’t afford to live here. There’s great opportunity to move into these neighborhoods.”

Brands, such as Whole Foods, he said, are moving into younger, urban areas. “[National brands] are looking to fit into these awkward locations, so you’re finding a lot more national chains adapting to these footprints,” Ayad said.

Opportunity exists when it comes to strengthening the role of commercial brokers in arranging successful deals, Acevedo said.

“What’s very critical for commercial real estate brokers is to understand the client. We get at least 10 real estate listings a day, and that [alone] doesn’t go very far. Co-tenancy is extremely, extremely important to the success of a concept,” he said. “It’s a whole experience understanding the goal of the restaurateur.”