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Chef Jimmy Lebron Works Hard to Keep Broken Shaker and 27 Restaurant & Bar Relevant

Brunch at 27 Restaurant & Bar at the Freehand Hotel
Brunch at 27 Restaurant & Bar at the Freehand Hotel Photo by Deyson Rodriguez
Miami Beach has seen an influx of new restaurants and bars open and close in the past decade or so, but what gives a restaurant staying power.

Jimmy Lebron, who took over the reins at 27 Restaurant & Bar in 2015, believes a restaurant stands the test of time by offering a mix of tried and true favorites peppered with exciting new dishes. "I think one thing about 27 is that you can always go and find the staples, but then you'll find things that are new."

When 27 opened in November 2014, it signified an expansion of the Bar Lab universe into dining. The cocktail company, owned by Gabe Orta and Elad Zvi, was known for its innovative cocktail programs at Broken Shaker and other establishments. The restaurant, located in a small house on the Freehand Hotel property on Indian Creek Drive in Miami Beach, proved to be a hit with Miamians, who fell for a wide range of dishes with Latin American and Mediterranean influences, paired with a smart cocktail program.

Lebron, who worked his way up the ranks from Broken Shaker busser to head chef at 27, says the past few years were tough, but the restaurant at the Freehand Hotel has bounced back.

"Unfortunately, during the pandemic, people had to be let go — even people who were with us for years," he laments, adding that while the restaurants were closed, he pulled his weight helping with other tasks. "I was cleaning the pool, doing landscaping, anything I could do to pitch in." Lebron and his skeleton crew also spearheaded food drives for the community. When it came time to reopen, many of the original workers came back onboard. "It was the core of employees that returned," he says.

Now, as executive chef of Broken Shaker's culinary program, Lebron devotes his time to creating the food menus for Broken Shaker, 27, and Hoja Taqueria. He says the collaboration with the bar team is important when designing the menus.

"I work closely with [bar manager] Christine Wiseman. We'll sit down and make sure the cocktails work with the drinks." Lebron says the servers are also knowledgeable in pairing drinks with menu items.

Lebron recently updated 27's brunch menu, adding labne with poached eggs and chili crisps ($12), and a fried fish sandwich ($24) reminiscent of the minuta, a Miami favorite. Lebron also brought back 27's kimchi rice, updating it with Proper Sausage bacon ($17), and the latke Benedict, topped with smoked salmon ($22). "I think what I learned most from Gabe and Elad is to make sure the menu is well-rounded. It's a balance between keeping my creativity and satisfying guests," he says.

The chef is looking forward to bringing back Broken Shaker's popular Sunday-night barbecues around the pool. And, though he promises collaborations with local pitmasters, he couldn't share any names just yet. "We haven't gotten the list solidified, but it's going to be a wide range of talent," says Lebron.

Lebron also reminds Miamians that Broken Shaker is the best place to be during the summer months. If cocktails and a weekend barbecue don't get your attention, perhaps the fact that the Freehand pool is open for Broken Shaker customers will.

"Summer is a bit slower, so there's an open policy for the pool," he notes.

27 Restaurant & Bar and Broken Shaker at the Freehand Miami. 2727 Indian Creek Dr., Miami Beach; 786-476-7020; 
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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

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