Jonathan Eismann's Pacific Time in the Miami Design District is just over a year old. According to Eismann, it reminds him of his old Lincoln Road location (back when the outdoor mall was an empty strip). "In a lot of ways, it's very similar. I remember Lincoln Road in '93 being very quiet at night. It's like a flashback. I call this area WeBe, West Beach. I thought 'SoBe' was the stupidest fucking thing I'd ever heard -- now it's a drink.
"I'm workin' out the details to be able to get to the point of buying or leasing some more property. It's not easy -- there's a lot of major-league bureaucratic hoopage, but I'm lookin' to do two more small-box restaurants around here, and this neighborhood really needs a bar.
"We're doing Recessionista Thursdays (small plates and wines, fixed price) and Cheap Date Sundays (wine, two apps, main course, dessert, $49)."
I met up with Eismann at Pizza Volante. He told me a couple of great fuckin' stories, bought me a Brooklynese, and then went off to have dinner with his folks. Here's what he had to say...
"I fired a Pacific Time manager for incompetence and insolence and I
downscaled the staff. I'm down $16,000 in theft at Pacific Time since
we opened. Theft is
rampant in the restaurant industry, from the waiters taking silverware
or a bottle of olive oil, to breaking and entering.
"The biggest problem in restaurant workers is drunks, their personality changes, bad judgment, no coordination. If you're drugged up and your skills aren't affected... I don't know, in the '90s it was coke and roofies, staff were selling to each other -- that was bad -- it was so cheap down here. At clubs like Warsaw, coke was almost free. It was like, 'You want conch fritters? Go to Fort Lauderdale.'
"I got no complaints. You gotta have a sense of humor in this business. For a long time, I didn't. The principal of my high school said I'd be the first graduate to be a convicted felon before I left.
"The rain's been fuckin' insane, though, like a hurricane every week. We have roll-down gates and a generator at Pacific Time so we can stay open.
"I'm definitely an adventurer. When the trail seems too narrow, you gotta find ways. I don't believe in walking straight ahead -- you just run into a wall. Life goes fast.
"When I was 27, I was a chef at China Grill in NYC making a 100 grand a year. I had a great apartment. I met my future wife, the love of my life, the mother of my children. I got sick of New York, fed up with stupidity. My friends and all the people I knew just became so packaged.
"I've been to a number of the great cities of the world. Miami is not one of them, but it's just so off-the-grid. I'd rather be in a rat race with a bunch of living rodents than a bunch of fake, plastic people. So I moved down here.
"I met Robert Pagan, who is probably the single most talented cook I have ever met, and he was when he was 20 years old, and we've been workin' together ever since. I've known the guy 20 years.
"Listen, I got my parents over at Pacific Time -- I'm gonna go have dinner with them. I'll talk to you later."