At just 28 years old, they've put the place together without any fancy corporate backers. That takes careful planning and gumption. So how did they tackle this monumental task -- and decide on the menu? Read on:
Route 9 opens February 20 at 1915 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables. Visit route9miami.com or call 305-569-9009. You can also follow the restaurant on Twitter, at @Route9Miami, for the most up-to-date happenings.
Short Order: What made you decide to open your own place at this age? It just seems like such a huge project.
Jeremy: Well, it relates to why we chose Miami. Paola is from Mexico, and I'm from New Jersey. We grew up seeing service as paramount. Down here in Miami, you can be young and make a name for yourself. It's not like New York, where you have to put in 30 years and know everybody around and get one lucky break and do it -- besides the fact that it's super-expensive and wouldn't be realistic for anybody our age.
Miami is really open to young people, and more than open -- I think Miami really likes when young people go out and do something. It's comfortable for us to be able to do this here. We don't feel like we'll be looked down upon, and we hope that people will respect that there's a new energy to it. I think the Pubbelly guys are a great example of that.
I hope that people see that this is what we want to do the rest of our lives, is make people smile. And we can do that down here.
Have you had any challenges opening a restaurant in Coral Gables, in particular?
Jeremy: No, not at all. We heard it would be difficult but City Hall has been great with us. They are really supportive of us opening; you can tell they want independent, new businesses, not just the large chains on Miracle Mile.
How did you decide on Coral Gables anyways?
Paola: We looked everywhere, and we always loved this area. My sister lives here in Coral Gables, we'd always drive around and say it was so cool that people were actually walking around and going from place to place.
Jeremy: It was important for us to be in a neighborhood. We didn't want a seasonal place; we didn't want South Beach or anything. We wanted a place where people live year-round and be part of the community.
We live in Aventura right now -- although we're relocating to Coral Gables -- and we do volunteer work up there and would love to do it right here. The school [Coral Gables Elementary] is right there, which is great for us. We love to work with kids; we'd like to do cooking classes and we coach sports.
What's your food philosophy for the restaurant?
Paola: We want to do food that makes me feel comfortable. We want to keep it very simple; we don't want to be playing around with foie gras and marshmallows.
We believe in good food, and we believe that you go to a place because there's a soul to it. We want people to come twice a week because they can't get enough, and where we can combine the two without having to spend $200 a person, which is a lot of places down here.
Paola, will any of your Mexican background come into it?
Paola: Yeah, a little bit, things like fish tacos will be on the menu, but we're not going to be doing any kind of Tex-Mex stuff.
Jeremy: But with the fish tacos, for instance, everything except from the tortillas -- which we'll buy locally -- will be made from scratch, the guacamole, everything will be done here.
We'll also have a nice selection of small plates, stuff you can share, like baked goat cheese, to bigger plates like the fish tacos, burgers, grilled hangar steak with Romaine. And we'll run specials all the time. Our prices are real competitive -- a large entree will plate will be from about $16 to $26 or $28. The small plates range from about $6 to $15.
Are you using any local suppliers?
Paola: We're trying to use as much as possible. We can't go all organic, although I would love to, because of our prices. But we are certainly trying to do as much local and organic as we can. And we have enough flexibility on the menu that we can do a lot of seasonal ingredients. We want to work with farms down here, and we have good relationships with our suppliers who can tell us when they have something amazing.
Jeremy: All the breads -- though not the pastries, all those are made here -- the bread for the table and for sandwiches will come from La Provence, down the block, which is great because we can pick it up every morning.
What about your future goals, after you get this place up and running?
This is our first place and it will always be be special to us, because we put it together from the floor up. Our goal is to have some other places, and make a really great team, and grow with a lot of people and have people grow with us.