If you’ve been to Zak the Baker in recent weeks and wondered what the big green building next door with the café, bar, loads of chairs, and some sort of studio will be, you are not alone. With little more than a few advertisements in the windows for restaurant and bar help, deciphering the purpose of the stark new space is nearly impossible. As it turns out, the space will serve more than a few purposes, just one of which happens to be a proper new café.
The building in question is Miami Studios, a professional haircare and salon training center for seasoned industry professionals. Designed around continuing education for stylists, Miami Studios features all-inclusive packages, down to professionally made breakfast, lunch, and happy hour. “We are catering to these students who come in for these classes. We offer breakfast, coffee, lunch, and a happy hour,” Christian Martin, the studio’s in-house chef, says. Sometime later this summer, Martin won’t be catering to just students, but to the general public as well.
As of now, Martin is feeding the students first and foremost. “We take care of our students, our customers, first. When the restaurant opens, we will obviously cater to them. We hope to keep them in house,” Martin says of his already-captive audience. By opening the restaurant to the public later this fall, he hopes to use the space to its fullest potential.
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Martin’s culinary wing of Miami Studios will be called Miami Underground — M.U.G. for short — and will feature a full-service restaurant and bar, as well as a coffee program run by Neville Burde. The café portion of M.U.G. is already open, and Burde brews a damn good cup of joe. But for now, that’s it — coffee only. Diners looking for a new culinary experience in Wynwood will have to wait until later this summer.
“[The directors of Miami Studios] want to have people empowered to go through a whole day of class and not feel sleepy. So lunch is lots of sprout salads, flowering kale, light, healthy stuff to keep them going through the day,” Martin says. He speaks enthusiastically about the relationships he’s developing with local growers. “Menus for [M.U.G.] will be similar to what we’re serving for the students.”
And that’s the mystery of the green building. While classes in the studios have already begun, menu testing, decor, and other aspects are in the works to make M.U.G. a fully functioning restaurant that’s open to the public. But if curiosity gets the best of you, pop in for coffee. Neville’s South African accent and passion for each cup of java he brews might just turn M.U.G. into your new favorite coffee joint.