Miami Dolphins CEO Mike Dee Hearts Garcia's

This is a continuation of yesterday's interview with Luis Garcia. You can read the first part here.

Who are your diners?

Mondays to Fridays we have a certain crowd for lunch. I can tell you who is coming in. I have three lunches: nurses and secretaries, doctors and presidents, and ex-CEOs who are retired.

But it's nearly 4 p.m. and people are still coming in...

There's a 4 p.m. shift change at the local police office. The bad guys know there's a shift change. They're like, "Let's eat!"

Meaning, they're eating side-by-side?

Mmm-hmm. [laughs] Hang out here long enough and you'll see all kinds. We have a fun crowd. An eccentric crowd.

Yeah, you're not exactly located in a prime area...

My father had been feeding people in this neighborhood for so many years. You can walk into Overtown wearing a Garcia's shirt they give you high-five and say, "What's up?"

However that suite at Sun Life Stadium is pretty posh. How did you get the Dolphins gig?

I had a girlfriend who was a real estate agent working with Adam Grossman, the [senior] VP of public affairs for the Miami Dolphins. This was a couple of years ago. We went out on a double date. Fast forward six, eight months, he comes by to eat at the restaurant. A couple of weeks after that, he brings in Mike Dee on a boat. And Mike, he's always thinking things. He says, 'Wouldn't it be great if we had Garcia's at the stadium? We'll have somebody contact you.' Sure enough, he had somebody call me. We came up with this concept. I think they were also reaching out to the Latin community and enhancing the VIP experience.

I showed him my operation. Mom was in the kitchen. We catch our own fish and sell fish. This is unique and different and not pretentious. We're not pretentious--we have wooden tables.

That's ironic, isn't it, that this restaurant seems so understated, yet seats in that suite are $1,250 each?

That's why it works. That idea makes it unique, makes it different.

[Editor's note: Originally we were lead to believe individual seats could be purchased for each individual home game but now seats need to be purchased for the entire season or at least the remaining five-game mini-season. Get more info by calling 305-623-6200.)

So how did you decide what to serve? I recall seeing ceviche, chilled crab legs, lobster tails, chilled shrimp, fried calamari, conch fritters, various fish fillets, Key lime pie, guava cheesecake...

Some steak; pumpkin, black crab, or lobster ravioli...

Our idea was give them an alternative of what's available at the stadium, which is hot dogs, sausages, Philly cheese steaks, and chicken fingers... concession-style food.

That's what the people in the other suites were eating?

That's what all the boxes provide. And by the way, it's $500 to $600, that package. When you have 25 to 30 people in a suite... it comes out to $600 of hot dogs, chicken fingers, pizzas, quesadillas.

What do you hope will come out of this new Dolphins deal?

I hope the Dolphins approach me and say that they love Garcia's at the stadium and that they would love my presence next year on a larger scale. That's my goal is to have Mike Dee say, "You know, I've made a couple of decisions this year that I thought worked out well. Club LIV worked out nice. Garcia's worked out nice. Let's get 'em back! Let's get five or six Garcia's in there."

What's in your future plans, otherwise?

I'd love to have another restaurant.

In Miami?

I don't know yet. I think so. We're in such a weird area. You have to get in your car and drive here. It's a destination restaurant. There isn't anything else here. If I found an area that was somewhere near civilization that was interesting, quirky, funky, nice, and different, I would love to try it.

Monday we'll talk with Luis Garcia and Chef Claudio Bravo about the tricks to serving at the Dolphins' games, how to handle urchin, and which fish turns the chef on.

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Riki Altman