For a popular restaurant to spawn a second locale is nothing new. Indeed, some restaurateurs claim that this is the only way to start seeing any real profits. Until recently, however, this phenomenon hasn't happened much in these parts.
Lime Fresh Mexican Grill, La Sandwicherie, Sushi Maki, and numerous pizza joints have doubled up, but we're not talking fast food. Sakaya Kitchen has a Sakaya Kitchen a Go Go truck, but we're not talking meals on wheels either. Michael's Genuine Food & Drink and Ortanique now showcase second venues in the Cayman Islands, and ditto Quattro Gastronomia Italiana in New York -- these also don't count, but after so many years of accepting hand-me-downs from other cities, it's nice to finally be exporting the Miami brand.
More commonly, a successful local restaurant gets followed up with another, different establishment -- be it Jonathan Eismann's respective properties (oops, bad example!), or Michy's/Sra. Martinez; Town Kitchen & Bar/Smoke't Southern Kitchen & Tap; El Rincon Asturiano/Andalus; and so forth. Yet in recent months, Chow Down Grill, Gigi, Jimmy'z Kitchen, Tapas y Tintos and Rosa Mexicano have either opened or announced the pending opening of sister locations.
"Our plan from the beginning was to open two restaurants," explains Joshua Marcus, chef/partner of Chow Down Grill, in response to our asking if second locations were becoming an economic necessity.
"We were turned down for the Talula space, so what we decided to do is split the money -- to open up a place right away so we can get our idea out there, start to grow the concept, and then take the rest of the money (saved from the pricey Talula space), put it in the bank, and search slowly for what would be our second location. My partner owns the Purdy lounge, and my other partner owns bars in New York City -- most notably Vertigo Bar. So we knew the second place would have a bar, and would be on South Beach. That was our game plan all along."
The SoBe Chow Down will be right next to Go-Go Fresh Food Cafe on Alton Road and Ninth Street. Opening date is pegged for July.
So far we're looking lucky in regards to our batch of recent restaurant clonings: As with Chow Down, they hold the promise of doubling our pleasure and doubling our fun -- as opposed to the downside of sequels, like Kim and Khloe following Kourtney into the world. Here are a few of our other recent or upcoming spinoffs:
Gigi: The Wynwood District hit hopes lightning strikes twice as Amir Ben-Zion has plans to open what is being dubbed "Gigi Village" adjacent to the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center. Ambitious vision calls for the7,000-square-foot space to include burger & bar, bakery, coffee shop, gallery space, and so forth. The original Gigi was executed so flawlessly, that even without departed chef Jeff McInnis -- who was an integral part of the restaurant's success -- the new version holds great promise.
Tapas y Tintos: The midtown outpost of this popular Española Way tapas bar just opened on NE 36th Street and Second Avenue. The second locale proffers the same menu as the South Beach branch. Mojitos and sangria are probably more renowned than the food, but T & T commands a strong local following.
Rosa Mexicano:This example differs from the others in that it started in New York and is a national chain now. Still, they've had the Mary Brickell Village spot for quite awhile, and just recently debuted the South Beach outpost on Lincoln Road. The original New York Rosa was fantastic many Mexican moons ago. The Brickell Village one is a much paler rendition, as I imagine the new one is.
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George's in the Grove/George's on Sunset: What worked in the Grove since 2008 has also been working in South Miami since last July. No surprise: Both places are imbued with the charming, frenetic energy of chef/owner George Eric Farge -- plus some pretty good bistro fare too.
What will be the next restaurant to go for the double play? Stay tuned.