Arts & Entertainment District Wants to Give Free Rent for a Year to a Restaurant

If you're a chef with a dream, you already know that opening your own restaurant is a daunting and expensive process. Even if you have a wonderful concept, it takes lots of time, sweat equity, and money to finally get to the point where you're actually serving people.

But what if someone were to hand you the keys to a restaurant space, along with free rent for a year? Sound too good to be true? 

That's exactly what the New Tropic and Miami's Arts & Entertainment District are doing with the launch of A+Eats: The Search for Miami's Next Great Restaurant Concept. The goal? To find Miami's best new restaurant concept and bring it to the burgeoning neighborhood, poised for a cultural explosion. The area, set between downtown Miami and Wynwood, is home to Mignonette, with Vice City Bean soon moving in on the ground floor of Filling Station Lofts. The neighborhood also organizes various cultural events ranging from concerts to farmers' markets. 

Ron Gottesman, coprincipal of NR Investments and a catalyst for Miami's Arts & Entertainment District's growth, says the area attracts people with a strong creative and entrepreneurial spirit. So the contest was created to "celebrate and further elevate Miami’s local talent while searching for the area’s next 'it' chef or restaurant. Start-up costs can make it difficult for new businesses to take flight, so we’re giving one winner the chance to turn their restaurant concept into a reality.”

If you have the talent and the gumption (but lack the funds) to launch a restaurant, visit thenewtropic.com/aeats beginning Monday, August 10, at 9 a.m. through Monday, August 31, at 5 p.m. and submit an online application, describing your dream restaurant in detail. All proposed concepts will be judged on three criteria: originality, know-how, and community. 

A group of semifinalists will be selected and contacted for more details. Five finalists will then be chosen and invited to compete October 17 in a live cook-off, which will be judged by a panel of community constituents and special guests. The winner will receive a restaurant space rent-free for one year. The location, to be announced, will be available for operation beginning in early 2016. The contest will also have an online voting component for an audience choice award, so get your fan base together.

This is not, however, a golden ticket. The people of the Arts & Entertainment District are looking for a restaurant that offers something compelling to this growing neighborhood, run by a competent team that has the experience to maintain and grow a successful business. That's not to say that only chefs with decades of experience need apply, only that this is a serious offer for people who are truly looking to jump-start a long career in the restaurant industry.

After that boost, it's up to the chefs or restaurateurs to work their magic and create a following — and sense of community — in the neighborhood.

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