The words pork-free seem to be the only thing people remember when Short Order broke the news of South Street's arrival at the former Sra. Martinez space. Not that we blame you. How can you make delicious soul food -- or in South Street's case neo soul food -- without it?
Alas, Amaris Jones says you're just going to have to try it. She isn't going to spend time trying to convince you.
South Street Restaurant & Bar Moving Into Former Sra. Martinez Space
What we do know so far is the self-proclaimed lifestyle maven has paired up with restaurant and nightlife impresario Amir Ben-Zion to bring a jolt of food and music to the Design District. Jones talks about South Street being equal parts restaurant and live music venue, where blues, R&B, and jazz commingle with the food Jones grew up eating and cooking.
So while you await South Street's arrival (
we're told December actually, South Street's Facebook page says it will open this Friday), Short Order spoke with Jones about how she came to work Ben-Zion and who will be helping out the self-taught cook in the kitchen.
Short Order: First of all, we'd like to know who is Amaris Jones. What makes you a "lifestyle maven"?
Amaris Jones: I've had a lifestyle management company for over 8 years. My services include concierge, event production, strategic partnership programs, etc. My clients over the years include but aren't limited to entertainers and athletes, print media companies and hedge fund managers. Working with such a wide array of clients in various industries has not only given me an understanding of different needs of different businesses, but it's opened me up to a wide array of individuals who have enhanced my life... and my rolodex!
What's the idea behind South Street?
Diners should expect great service and amazing food and cocktails ranging from my special turkey chop to custom made iced teas that you can spike on your own. They will experience live impromptu music performances and unexpected DJ sets. The idea is to tantalize all of your senses, you'll want to dance, eat, drink and enjoy. Picture the best Sunday night family dinner you've ever gone to. We'll be hosting that every night at South Street. It's all about the vibe.
How did you come to work and partner up with Amir Ben-Zion?
I've known Amir for several years. One night I sent him text message regarding my concept, [and] we met two days later and worked out a partnership deal. Although it's been a labor of love, having a partner like Amir who has created so many unique concepts, gives me full confidence that this will bring something to Miami that no one has ever seen or experienced before.
In the description online of South Street, it talks about you taking inspiration from your culinary upbringing and experiences to the restaurant. Can you elaborate on your source of inspiration for the food?
The inspiration of the food stems from my upbringing. I started cooking at the age of 8 years old. I spent many hours in the kitchen with my mother, aunts and cousins. As a lifestyle consultant, I placed chefs to work with celebrities and other clients. I had the opportunity to learn quite a bit from those chefs. The joy I get from feeding, hosting, and bringing people together has finally become my primary career. I couldn't be happier that I get to do this every day.
Did you go to culinary school?
No, I did not. I am self-taught. My training stems from my life experiences. However, I've hired some great professionally trained chefs that will help me carry out my vision. You'll be able to find me in the kitchen, hosting guests, dancing in our lounge, or even pouring drinks behind the bar. It's going to be that kind of spot, almost the same as if I was inviting you to my home.
A source of "controversy" seemed to be the words pork-free in the description of South Street's neo soul menu. Do you think your food will be able to hush naysayers who feel soul food needs to include pork fat?
Once people taste the food, they will change their minds.
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It seems you have a lot of local celebrity friends like DJ Irie and Adrienne Williams. Should we expect them to be South Street regulars?
I'm sure that many of my friends and associates will support South Street. There is nothing in Miami quite like it, and there will be something for everyone.
What are you most excited about the South Street project?
That I am able to do what I love and live out a lifelong dream.
Any little secrets you can share with us?
There will be some great live music at our venue. If you get lucky enough to be there on one of the nights when we have a special performances, you'll have experienced something really special. You'll just have to come check it out.