Food News

All Aboard Florida Courts Azucar, Panther, Serfer for Downtown Station

Though completion of All Aboard Florida's downtown Miami train is still two years away, company officials last week met with owners of some of Miami's favorite spots in hopes of luring locals to the sprawling hub.

Among those the company is trying to woo are Mignonette's Danny Serfer, Blackbrick's Richard Hales, Panther Coffee, Azucar Ice Cream Company, and Jackson Soul Food, sources told New Times.

Serfer declined to comment while Hales confirmed meeting with company officials but said everything was preliminary.

"We just had a casual conversation," he said. "They seem to have a good plan in place, and if it comes to fruition, it's going to be a great destination."

All Aboard Florida plans to open its 235-mile high-speed line connecting Miami and Orlando in early 2017. The Miami station will be located in what was a parking lot east of downtown's federal courthouses. The restaurants, a yet-to-be-named grocery store, and retail shops will be housed within an adjacent, 130,000-square-foot complex being called 3 MiamiCentral.

"This is going to be a completely new urban space, like the Time Warner Center," All Aboard spokesperson Melissa Shuffield said. "We’re going to have restaurants with a lot of locals, and there’s going to be some well-known chefs as well."

If All Aboard Florida — a subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries, owned by Fortress Investment Group — can pull it off, it would be a coup among the city's megaprojects. Though hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail space are under construction downtown, only the Pubbelly Group's sushi concept has found a home. The restaurant is slated to become part of the billion-dollar Brickell City Centre. 

The hope is that All Aboard Florida, City Centre, and Miami Worldcenter can fill their spaces with a blend of the perfunctory, national chains and a good mix of locals. Unfortunately, that's rarely the case in Miami. The ritzy Bal Harbour is a Stephen Starr fiefdom while Mary Brickell Village has been little more than a glorified shopping-mall food court from the get-go. Michael Schwartz and Dena Marino are the only local figures in the $2 billion Design District, with French luminaries Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Joël Robuchon on the way. 

All of the glitzy renderings are nice for marketing materials. Let's hope the final projects will include something people want to visit.

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Zachary Fagenson became the New Times Broward-Palm Beach restaurant critic in 2012 before taking up the post for Miami in 2014. He also works as a correspondent for Reuters.
Contact: Zachary Fagenson