It's the end of March in the Magic City, and a cold wind blows through SoFi's close-knit neighborhood. Joe's Stone Crab is typically full on a Tuesday night. Nikki Beach looks like a ghost club just three days after Winter Music Conference. And a week after hosting Skrillex and friends, Story is closed, with no doorman outside or the heavy traffic that follows. Instead, he is down the block at the Flat, which is now open for a preview phase.
Short Order attended the media preview and got a chance to sit down with legendary SoBe nightlife doorkeeper Cedric Adegnika and partner Barbara Zuccarellirise and find out the story behind their new venture. We also got to taste some of the cocktails and verrines.
The concept for the Flat was born about five years ago, while French doorkeeper Cedric Adegnika was working the door of Set on Lincoln Road. Adegnika, a doorkeeper since the young age of 17 (he's now 39), established a clientele and following that trusted him to tell them what the best and most glamorous spots in Miami were. It was here, ten years after moving to Miami and living the South Beach lifestyle, that he realized his influence. He decided to open his own place and step away from the all the door-attitude BS.
Adegnika traveled back to France to get reacquainted with the local scene. At a club in the stylish town of Porto Vecchio Corsica, he met his business partner Barbara Zuccarelli. The pair talked all night about inspirations, different cultures, and their life experiences. By morning they had fallen in love -- not with each other, but with the thought of applying their combined extensive professional experiences at a new space. In Miami.
So Barbara packed her bags, left her life in France, and moved to Miami to develop the Flat: an experience that offers guests the comfort of a nearby watering hole but with the cachet of an eclectic and worldly venue.
Its look is luxurious yet cozy, intimate yet inviting. Purple walls add calmness to the loud black-and-white photographs on the wall. A neon retro piano that features Ray Charles is the focal point through the two glass doors, which from the inside almost hide behind large black curtains. On the other end of the small room is a tiled mirrored bar that can't possibly fit more than ten guests sitting. The Flat must be able to accommodate around 60 inside and an additional 30 or so when the terrace outside is completed. Each group or couple has a space of its own, consisting of a couch and table, with ottomans around if needed.
It has the glamour and look of the club scene but without the hassle, expense, and bottle minimums. Music is just the right noise level, with beats intended for chilling out rather than going crazy.
The Flat will open at 7 p.m and has no closing time. Like any good host, which Adegnika is, he will close when the last person leaves.
With a resumé that includes Fashion Week in Paris, events during the Cannes Film Festival, and two years at the A-list restaurant-lounge Man Ray in Chelsea (owned by Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, John Malkovich, and Harvey Weinstein), Adegnika invites everyone to the Flat, which can accommodate a wide array of guests, from global celebrities to Miami locals.
The menu will include 40 cocktails priced from $11 to $125 (smoked-salmon-caviar bloody mary featuring a quail egg) and 12 verrines priced from $10 to $20.
"In a melting pot like Miami, it's a wonder that verrines haven't been done before," Adegnika says. "So that's what we're doing, bringing the sophistication of France in a new way that's innovative. Tapas have been done. We're raising the bar."
Verrines are an appetizer or dessert made of components layered in a small glass. Adegnika assures that the verrines here will vary in flavor and texture, with a focus on health. His personal favorite is the quinoa with guacamole and sprouts, which we tried. As it turns out, the nightlife guru and longtime doorkeeper or "front man" is very different from the character he plays at work. "What I do is not who I am," Adegnika explains.
Wearing blue jeans, a simple grey tee, blazer, and Converse sneakers, he explains his daily meditation ritual and twice yearly retreat to Rochester, New York, where he meditates for ten hours straight. "I want to step away from this EDM scene and offer something where there's no obligation of minimum spending to customers," he says. "I don't even like EDM. I don't go to clubs."
Don't worry about being a six-foot-tall model decked out in a dress and heels or being on the DJ's list. "This isn't like that. From 7 to 10 p.m., nobody will be at the door," he says regarding the dress code. "One can wear beach attire and stop by here before going back home. After 10, it's a little classier."
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The preview menu is being offered from now till mid-April, when the Flat opens officially with a full menu of cocktails and verrines.
Here's what we saw and tasted:
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha