When Giorgio Rapicavoli and Alex Casanova opened Eating House six months ago, sharing space with a café on the border of Coral Gables and Little Havana, the duo hoped customers would patronize the pop-up restaurant that seats just under 50 people.
They weren't, however, prepared for the nightly feeding frenzy that began when the doors opened at 7 p.m. and continued throughout the evening. It seems that a combination of word of mouth and good reviews has made Eating House the place to go for interesting food and daily surprises, because the menu changes daily.
The pop-up will officially close July 31, so Short Order spoke with Chef Rapicavoli to find out what he learned from the pop-up and what he plans for the future.
"For three years I cooked for 30 people every Saturday night, and I went from that to cooking for over 100 people daily. We had to adapt to that quickly," Rapicavoli says about the instant buzz and long lines that Eating House has generated. "I knew we would do well, but I really think we were more successful than I expected. We could have benefited from some tables and a bigger space. That's very important."
That's not to say Rapicavoli is looking to expand into a megaspace. "I don't want to go to a 150-seat restaurant, because I can't cook the way I want to. Do I think we could use another 20 seats? Sure. But a large restaurant? That's not my style."
Despite rumors that Rapicavoli and Casanova have already inked a deal on a new space, the chef denies they have any immediate concrete plans. The team will spend August 1 breaking down their part of the restaurant; then Rapicavoli will take part in a bartending competition at the Corner that evening.
Plans after that? "So far, nothing. We're in the middle of talking with people. We're trying to figure out whether we want to extend the current lease, find a completely new permanent space, or pop up somewhere again. There are so many options we're looking into."
Rapicavoli does, however, have a goal he's working toward. "I would open up Eating House in the Gables. Same concept, just without having to share the restaurant with anyone else."
Rapivacoli said the pop-up was a great learning tool, essential for the team's next step. Whether Eating House returns in a week, a month, or a year, the chef has taken notes.
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"First and foremost, have a relationship with your regulars. There are people that come in and we have coffee and talk with them after we close our doors. We know their names. We even know their dogs' names.
"At the end of the day, you can't get hyped up from the good and you can't get upset from the bad. You have to keep moving forward. You have to strive to better yourself every day -- keep pushing."
You have until July 31 to dine at Eating House, where Rapicavoli will feature some favorite dishes each day until the doors close (for now).