When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered restaurants to close their dining rooms as COVID-19 descended back in March, Red South Beach chef/partner Peter Vauthy did what he could to keep staff employed and fed. He prepared meals for first responders and cooked fried chicken for takeaway. June brought the go-ahead from Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez to reopen dining rooms — followed weeks later by an about-face from Gimenez, who nixed indoor dining.
Red had no outdoor seating.
Vauthy saw only one way to keep his restaurant from shuttering permanently: Move to a new location.
Red South Beach has found a new home in the same South of Fifth neighborhood, in the former Mira Five Stars restaurant space at the Marea condo on South Pointe Drive.
The spot hit all the notes he was looking for: a large, modern kitchen, a great location, and an extended outdoor patio with covered areas. Vauthy tells New Times that having a patio is essential for the foreseeable future. "When we had no outside dining, we were essentially doing no business. It became obvious to me that we needed outdoor space."
Vauthy says he and managing partner Aaron Hammer have been working on the lease for a few months. It took five weeks to get the kitchen to Vauthy's specifications. The new Red South Beach should be open in two weeks, if not sooner. The restaurant is finished and awaiting approval from the City of Miami Beach.
Initially, the restaurant will offer patio dining only (in addition to takeout). The outdoor patio seats up to 70 guests, accounting for social distancing. Most of the space is covered and protected from the elements. "The view is going to be incredible," Vauthy says. "It's a beautiful outdoor space. When people come to Miami, they want to be outside."
Once open, the indoor dining area will seat about 140, plus a glass-enclosed VIP room, two other private rooms, and a bar area with its own seating. Red's wine cellar will also be moved to the new space.
The menu will remain the same: prime steaks, fresh seafood, and decadent sides. Vauthy plans to add a four-course Sunday brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (including the option to add unlimited Champagne, bloody marys, or other noontime libations.
Also new: the Red butcher shop, which will offer ready-to-grill steaks, sustainable seafood, and spice rubs.
All menu items will continue to be available for takeout and delivery.
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The most important thing to the chef is reopening — and staying open for his employees.
"I need to open and be back to work for the 40-plus people who work for me," Vauthy says. "I've tried to keep key people on the payroll since the pandemic began, and I've kept my doors open for my employees. They know they can come in and get a meal. It's a people business and we have to take care of our people."
Looking beyond the reopening, he remains optimistic. "There's this built-in community that supports the local restaurants here," he says. "It's an extended neighborhood family."
Red South Beach. 801 South Pointe Dr., Miami Beach; 305-534-3688; redsobe.com.