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Jose Mendin had never stocked a kitchen with new equipment. In 2010, when he launched the restaurant Pubbelly with partners Andreas Schreiner and Sergio Navarro, the chef equipped the place with used machinery. Now, after debuting six thriving restaurants in three years, the trio has fresh stoves for the very first time.
In December, they will take over food and beverage operations at the soon-to-open Hilton Cabana Miami Beach. In the past, they decorated all of their restaurants. Today, they're working with an interior designer. They're running room service, hotel catering, and a new restaurant called L'Echon Brasserie too.
In short, the Pubbelly boys have made it big.
"For us to build a restaurant in front of the beach, well, for any Miami boy, it's a dream," Mendin says.
Innovation propelled them to this success. South Beach once packed Manhattan imports, overpriced restaurants, and PR machines on its shores. Pubbelly gave the city what it lacked: affordable, delicious food in a casual environment.
"We wanted to get away from those corporate places from New York and Los Angeles that come here to make money. They set up, bring in a chef, and just leave. We're here every day, paying attention to the locals," he says.
They hatched a model based on the neighborhood restaurant, but stocked it with good drinks, loud music, communal tables, and playful cuisine. And they constructed Pubbelly's identity around pork, an ingredient that's distinctly Miami.
Although they've built an empire, their restaurants feel decidedly uncorporate. And they've inspired other young chefs to do the same. Michael Pirolo exited the kitchen at Scarpetta at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach last year. He now co-owns the Alton Road restaurant Macchialina, which until recently was part of the Pubbelly group.
Despite the success and influence, the boys keep it real. "Hopefully, one day we'll be able to bring our concept to other cities," Mendin says. "But for now, we're all about Miami."