"The goal was to build a community and neighborhood feel in downtown, which was something that we felt was lacking in the area at the time,” Hudnall tells New Times.
The history of Lost Boy runs even deeper than that, however: It took up residence in a space that once housed a boutique retail shop inspired by Alonso's family business, which was founded in Cuba.
In the 1950s, Alonso's grandfather and great uncle ran La Epoca, one of the largest department stores in Havana. Like many businesses, the shop closed following the revolution, and the family fled to South Florida to start anew. In 1965, they relaunched La Epoca, choosing a ground-floor space in Miami's DuPont Building, later expanding to the Walgreens building across the street.
"As I grew older, my vision was to help create an area of thriving businesses," says Alonso, who grew up in the area.
He took his first step in 2015, opening a boutique that sold denim and cowboy boots alongside his brother in the same DuPont space where his family's store had resided.
"It was a sign to open Lost Boy Dry Goods in La Epoca's original Miami home," Alonso says. "But it was short-lived. We closed the department store in 2017 — and the two-year-old denim shop along with it. After putting in so much work, I didn't want to give up the DuPont space. I'd always dreamed of having a bar, but didn't know the business or where to begin."
Enter Hudnall, a friend and longtime hospitality professional from Arizona. With experience at the Mondrian South Beach and Soho Beach House under his belt, he joined Alonso in converting the retail shop into Lost Boy Dry Goods, which opened in 2018.
"It was a hit," Alonso says of the bar, which combines the aesthetics of a shore-leave tavern, Western saloon, and English pub with vintage items including his grandfather's vault, old mannequins, and the original La Epoca signage from Havana.
Now, the duo is expanding its portfolio into new territory with the opening of their first restaurant concept, Tropezón.
Tucked into the Mediterranean-style corridor of South Beach’s Española Way, the Andalusian-themed tapas and gin bar, whose name means “to stumble” in Spanish, is slated to open later this month at the Esmé Miami Beach hotel. The intimate restaurant and bar will serve a menu of Spanish classics with local chef Raymond Li at the helm.
"The idea is to introduce this culture to our diners and give them a sense of what dining in Andalucía is like, but we wanted to bring in a chef that could put their own spin on things, and chef Ray was the perfect fit," Hudnall explains. "With his training and personal background, he's been able to create the menu we envisioned: traditional dishes with global elements inspired from other cultures, like his Chinese, Cuban, and Colombian roots."
Inspired by the carefree imbibing done at village bars in Spain, Tropezón’s tapas-focused menu was designed to embrace — and experiment with — the food traditions of Spain’s Andalusian region, a cuisine rooted in Arabic, African, and Mediterranean influences.
Likewise, the bar celebrates the duo's love of a proper gin and tonic, offering variations created with a collection of more than 20 house-infused gins flavored with teas, seasonal fruits, nuts — even cured meats.
And the pair doesn't plan on stopping here. Tropezón is one of several Lost Boy concepts set to open in the coming year, Alonso and Hudnall say. Also in the works: spearheading the food and beverage program at the Esme Hotel, and a revival of the South Miami staple, Fox’s Lounge, with the addition of a liquor store concept, Sherron Inn Liquors, expected to open in late 2022.
The team also has plans for two new establishments in Miami Beach, beginning with an indoor/outdoor eatery aimed at embracing Australian café culture with New Orleans flavors, and a neighborhood dive bar. Both will be located in the Variety Hotel on Alton Road.
"Our goal — our passion — has always been to build up this community and neighborhood we call home,” Hudnall tells New Times. "As a team, our hope is to continue to create these spaces where people can come together to create truly memorable experiences."
Tropezón. 512 Española Way, Miami Beach (in the Esmé Miami Beach hotel; 305-809-8050; instagram.com/tropezonmiami. Opening end of November 2021.