For the past two years, many Miamians wondered what happened to Brad Kilgore. For years, Kilgore built his reputation as Miami's most innovative and creative chef with his restaurants Alter, Kaido, and Ember. When the pandemic hit, Kilgore quietly closed his restaurants. He kept busy though. "I've been running the Concours Club
, and doing events for some large brands. I've been doing great."
Kilgore and his wife, Soraya, also welcomed a baby boy earlier this year. Still, Miamians wondered when they would be able to get a taste of this young talent's food again. Kilgore tells New Times
he was in no rush. "I didn't want to do anything that didn't completely excite me."
That all changed when Elad Zvi asked his friend Brad for coffee. "Having a coffee with Elad led to a partnership with a project that intrigued me," says Kilgore.
Zvi, owner of Bar Lab with partner Gabe Orta told Kilgore that they were handling the beverage operations for the soon-to-open Arlo Hotel in Wynwood and they were interested in talking with Kilgore about running the food side. Kilgore explains that the three men have been friends for about a decade. "We've kicked the can around more than a couple of times about working on something together. It was 'what-iffing,' that's basically it."
This time, however, the timing was right and the project was meaningful. "This is a natural progression of our friendship and the respect we have for each other. Having that balance of what they bring to the table and what I do is the most exciting part," says Kilgore.
More than anything, Kilgore felt that heading the food for the first major hotel to open in Wynwood just felt right. "Wynwood's been a part of my blood going on eight years. I'll always have a special place in my heart for Wynwood and the creativity it stands for," he says.
When Arlo Wynwood opens in fall 2022, it will house several food and beverage outlets including a rooftop deck, a third-floor cocktail lounge, and a signature restaurant that will shine a spotlight on the collaborative efforts of Kilgore, Orta, and Zvi. Kilgore didn't want to give too much detail about the ground-floor restaurant, except to say that it will showcase a semi-open kitchen with a chef pass in the dining room. The restaurant will have indoor/outdoor seating surrounded by landscaping. "The restaurant will have a healthy-sized cocktail bar for Bar Lab's cocktails," Kilgore says. "It's going to be a concept that everyone will be intrigued and excited about," the chef teases, adding that the restaurant will serve lunch and dinner, while the upstairs lounge will offer late evening fare.
Kilgore says he's looking forward to collaborating with his Bar Lab partners. "We're inspiring each other with different ideas," he says, adding that some dishes and cocktails will be made with shared ingredients. "For instance, I went to Belize and there's an amazing hot sauce made with Scotch Bonnet peppers and carrots. I want to make that available for our guests, and I want to fold that into a cocktail."
Kilgore says that Bar Lab is working on a liqueur with citrus aromatics. "We'll also use that in a dessert," he says, adding, "just the idea that we're all working together to bring something new to Miami is amazing. I'm freaking excited."
When the not-yet-named restaurant and lounge open, Kilgore will have come full circle with his relationship to Wynwood. When Alter opened in the spring of 2015, Wynwood was still a bohemian neighborhood filled with graffiti and empty lots. Now, the landscape has changed and new buildings spring up every day — including the Arlo Wynwood. "Arlo built this hotel from the ground up, which is amazing. I feel that Wynwood is a teenager that's about to become an adult and I want to be there when it matures."
Arlo Wynwood. 2217 NW Miami Ct., Miami; arlohotels.com. Opening fall 2022.