Philippe Chow returns to South Beach after decade-long hiatus

New York-based restaurateur is leasing One Ocean commercial condo owned by Robert Rivani's Black Lion Investment Group

Black Lion’s Robert Rivani with One Ocean
Black Lion’s Robert Rivani with One Ocean (Getty, Fordo Filmz)

Philippe by Philippe Chow is making a South Beach comeback after agreeing to rent a commercial unit at One Ocean condominium. 

The celebrity restaurant brand’s owner, Merchants Hospitality, led by Abraham Merchant and Richard Cohn, signed a 15-year lease for the ground-floor space in the boutique condo building at 1 Collins Avenue, according to a press release. The commercial condo is owned by Miami-based Black Lion Investment Group, led by President Robert Rivani, which paid $12 million for the One Ocean unit in November. 

Philippe is expected to open the 13,500-square-foot restaurant by the second quarter of next year, the release states. Fabio and Sebastian Faerman with FA Commercial represented Black Lion, and Jeremy Modest and Ryan Tucker with RIPCO Real Estate represented Merchants Hospitality. 

Founded by its namesake and chef Philippe Chow, the first Philippe restaurant opened in Manhattan in 2005. In 2019, Merchants opened a second New York outpost in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. Two more Philippe restaurants are scheduled to open in Nashville and Washington D.C. between this year and 2024, the release states. 

In 2008, Philippe Chow ventured into Miami Beach for the restaurant’s first expansion outside the Big Apple. He opened his Chinese eatery in the Gansevoort Hotel, now 1 Hotel South Beach at 2341 Collins Avenue. A year later, rival restaurateur Michael Chow, who owns Mr. Chow, another chain of celebrity-driven restaurants, sued Philippe Chow. Michael Chow has an outpost in the W South Beach at 2201 Collins Avenue.

The Miami federal lawsuit noted that Philippe Chow changed his name from Chak Yam Chau, and that he worked as a chef’s assistant for Mr. Chow, but was never a chef, according to the Miami federal lawsuit.

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Michael Chow alleged that Philippe Chow and his then-business partner, Stratis Morfogen, stole Mr. Chow’s menu and used deceptive advertising to confuse customers into thinking that both restaurant brands were the same. Michael Chow won a partial judgment against Phillipe Chow and Morfogen in 2012, press reports state.

In 2011, Phillipe Chow sold its Gansevoort Hotel space, and relocated to a restaurant space in Miami Beach’s South of Fifth. It shuttered two years later. 

Merchants has owned roughly 90 percent of Philippe by Phillippe Chow since the mid-2010s, when the restaurant chain was facing a mountain of legal and financial troubles, press reports state. 

In the last two years, Rivani has been on a buying binge for commercial spaces in luxury condominiums. Black LIon dropped a combined $77.1 million for commercial units at six properties in Miami and Miami Beach, including the Continuum South Beach and One Thousand Museum, the 60-story condo tower designed by the late Zaha Hadid. 

Another fine-dining restaurant chain making a South Beach comeback in a Rivani-owned space is New York-based Catch. In November, Catch signed a lease for the Continuum’s 22,000-square-foot restaurant building at 200 South Pointe Drive. 

In 2014, Catch closed a restaurant in Miami Beach’s Royal Palm hotel at 1545 Collins Avenue. 

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