During a culinary demo at the 2016 South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Geoffrey Zakarian mentioned he would open a restaurant at the Diplomat Beach Resort.
So it was fitting that the celebrity chef announced further details at this weekend's New York Wine & Food Festival. Zakarian, cohosting the event Rooftop Chopped, shared specifics about the concept with New Times.
The restaurant, Point Royal, has a coastal American theme, with indoor and outdoor seating at the resort. The chef will also open Counter Point at the resort, offering coffee drinks, fresh juices, breakfast pastries, sandwiches, wine, and beer. Both eateries are part of the Diplomat Restaurant Group, founded by Howard Wein.
Zakarian says of Point Royal: "It's a seafood palace, my version of it. It's going to be very modern and fun and vibrant. It's right on the water. I'm very excited about it."
The Food Network star says the venue was chosen because of its proximity to Miami and Fort Lauderdale and its oceanfront access. "The actual location is right on the beach. I'm just lucky that the investors found this property. It's a spectacular location, and it's right up the street from Miami. We looked a long time, and this was the right move for us."
Zakarian's team was also lured by the fact that the Diplomat Beach Resort holds a massive convention facility with 209,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. For the chef and restaurateur, it's a major factor in Point Royal's success. "What you have to understand is that it's very hard to support a restaurant by it being great... In order for it to have the best product, the best staff, the best food, you have to be busy year-round. And to be busy, you have to locate yourself where there are other facets at work."
He says his plan is to cater to conventioneers, vacationers, and locals alike. "You know, we're not trying to be everything to everybody, but we're going to have a lot of people come through here and discover us. They'll come for a convention and say, 'Wow. Let's go here.' That helps keep the restaurant at a high level. This is a restaurant that's going to be here for a long time."
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He also promises an outstanding bar program at the restaurant. "When you think of South Florida, there are really few places to get a proper drink. It's getting much better, and I think the Broken Shaker has done a lot to start that." Zakarian's Lambs Club in New York City, by the way, serves one of the best Manhattans in Manhattan.
Zakarian will also tie in the 2017 South Beach Wine & Food Festival to his new concept by hosting the Point Royal Clambake with Valerie Bertinelli Friday, February 24, 2017. Tickets cost $250 each and go on sale October 24.
The chef is no stranger to South Florida. Zakarian was one of the first major chefs on the South Beach scene, opening the Delano Hotel's restaurant Blue Door in the '90s. He then returned to South Beach with Tudor House at the Dream South Beach Hotel. The restaurant, helmed daily by executive chef Jamie DeRosa, was an upscale American bistro known for its lavish rosé brunches. It closed in 2012.
Zakarian says Tudor House was in a challenging location for the concept, but past experience showed him the unlikeliest places sometimes prove fruitful. "You never know. The strangest things happen. My first restaurant was at the Royalton Hotel [in New York City]. It was on 44th Street, and everyone said, 'What are you, crazy? There's no door, no entrance, there's no lobby. You're going to die.' You just don't know." In a New York Times article, William Grimes called Zakarian "the reason that 44 in the Royalton Hotel was always a lot better than it needed to be."
Point Royal and Counter Point are slated for a winter 2016/2017 opening. A full menu is not yet available. According to Zakarian, both concepts will be worth the drive. "We're close, about ten to 15 minutes from most of Miami, so I think, in many respects, it's easier than going downtown."