Dadeland Plaza (9459 S. Dixie Hwy., Pinecrest ) this Friday, July 15. Owned and operated by business partners and close friends David Gonzalez and Gonzalo Leon de Bracamonte, the casual eatery will be the first step in the brand’s redesign and expansion.
Born and raised in Mexico, Gonzalez moved to Miami from Wisconsin in 2006 in search of some sun. After seeing the potential market for Mexican food in South Florida, he opened the first Peppers in 2008. The modest, 900-square-foot flagship, formerly known as Pepper's Burrito Grill, is located on Washington Avenue in South Beach.
After the first opening, Gonzalez partnered with De Bracamonte. A former elite combat Marine, De Bracamonte calls Pepper's his "first introduction
“I have come into the picture now to be a full-time partner,” De Bracamonte says. “I have invested my savings into this project because I believe in the product and, more important, I believe in the person behind it.”
According to the partners, Pepper's 3,000-square-foot Pinecrest eatery will feature an interior that's an upgrade from that of the other location and will cater to the neighborhood's mix of families and professionals.
“We will remain a casual restaurant,” Gonzalez says, “but we will be making changes that move us into more fine dining. There will be no counters anymore, but rather there will be servers who come to take your order. If you want to stay in this industry, you always have to be making changes, so that’s what we’ll be doing in this new space.”
The Pinecrest Pepper's will serve the same authentic Mexican fare as the others, including a selection of tacos, fresh salads, traditional fajitas, quesadillas, enchiladas, and burritos using whole-wheat, flour, or corn tortillas. Customers can also expect signature items such as the carne asada platter and the loaded burrito, but can also anticipate some new additions to an already-robust menu.
Gonzalez promises that almost everything served at the restaurant will be made in-house, including the hot sauces and guacamole. He wants to preserve the authenticity of the food throughout the brand’s expansion. “When I first opened, I worked with an older woman, Angelina from Mexico, to create the menu. She stayed here for six months testing out dishes and coming up with plates that everyone would recognize but that were still full of flavor,” he says.
“I am finally seeing my dreams come true,” says Gonzalez, who expects to open another Pepper's location in 2016 and two in 2017. “We are growing and expanding. We are taking a small business and turning it into a worthwhile company.”
Pepper's Authentic Mexican's Pinecrest location will be open from 11 a.m. to midnight daily.