Alex Guarnaschelli on Driftwood Room Departure: "There's No Bad Blood Here"

At the end of October 2016, Alex Guarnaschelli and her Miami Beach restaurant, Driftwood Room, will part company.

A statement released by Nautilus South Beach stated that the chef and restaurant would part ways at the end of October — one year to the date of the restaurant's opening:

"We've enjoyed having Alex Guarnaschelli here with us for the first year of the project. The concept and menu will remain the same throughout the property's food and beverage outlets."
 According to Eater Miami, plans are for the menu and concept to remain the same.

The chef also oversees the Nautilus Cabana Club, a poolside eatery, and the lobby bar, with the menus staying the same at those outlets as well. 

In a phone interview, Guarnaschelli told New Times that she had a one-year agreement with the Nautilus South Beach hotel and the thought was always to wait until this time of year to renew her options with the property.  

Though the chef and Food Network star said she wound up falling in love with Miami Beach, the logistics of having two restaurants over a thousand miles from each other proved to be a challenge. "I've only ever had one restaurant and I can get to it from home in 10-15 minutes. I just wanted to be there." Guarnaschelli is executive chef at Butter in New York City.

The chef mentioned that to run multiple successful restaurants, "you have to have a good infrastructure and a good team and I do. A lot of people do it well." 

But the main reason for wanting to stay close to New York is her daughter, Ava."Quite honestly, it's being with my 8-year-old more than anything."

In New Times' review of Driftwood Room, the Iron Chef and Chopped judge was quoted as responding to a question about handling her work/life balance of television, motherhood, and being an executive chef with a succinct, "How about badly?"

Guarnaschelli is quick to point out that her autumn departure from Driftwood Room has no negative connotations for her relationship with China Grill Management. "There's no bad blood here. I still operate Butter here in New York." Both Butter and Driftwood Room are owned and operated by China Grill Management.

Still, the chef seems wistful about leaving behind her second life in Miami Beach. "I never thought I would like it so much, but I really do. The culture and the food — it's so different from New York and you can't beat the beauty and the weather."

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss