At the South Beach Wine & Food Festival's Art of Tiki event, Top Chef alum and restaurateur Spike Mendelsohn mentioned he planned to open a restaurant named Sunny's at 15th Street and Collins Avenue in Miami Beach this spring. Now details have emerged about the restaurant, which is slated for a summer 2015 opening.
Sunny's, located at the soon-to-open Hall Hotel (1500 Collins Ave., Miami Beach), is named for both the chef's grandfather and the local weather. The casual bistro, designed by Robert McKinley, will be based on classic seaside cafés and beach bars around the world. The decor includes handcrafted wood tables, chairs made from reclaimed rebar, and a counter fashioned from Florida keystone.
The restaurant, which will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, will feature Mendelsohn's takes on favorite foods he discovered during his travels. Menu items will include a Gulf Coast grilled grouper Reuben, made with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing, and Cajun seasoning on marble rye; a lifeguard focaccia Myrtos Beach-style with cherry tomatoes, feta, dried oregano, and Greek olive oil on sea-soaked bread; and a Jersey Shore pork roll breakfast sandwich piled with ham, American cheese, a sunny-side-up egg, and root vegetables on a bulky roll.
The chef is also in charge of the menu served at Campton Yard, the hotel's backyard bar and outdoor lounge. The menu at the lounge — which features craft beers, bocce ball, picnic tables, and a large banyan tree as a focal point — will offer made-to-order brick-oven pizzas and dishes that will change seasonally to reflect Mendelsohn's inspirations, travels, and cravings. If his appearance at SoBeWFF's Art of Tiki event is an indication, you might just see tiki cocktails such as his Haole Punch, a potent blend of grapefruit, piña colada, ginger, and plenty of rum.
The dining options will be heavily influenced by Mendelsohn's love of the ocean. A surfing enthusiast, the chef says, "Some of the best meals I recall, both as a child and adult, were those devoured after a long day at the beach.
"There is something about pulling up to a snack shack with wrinkled fingertips, salty hair, and a soggy beach towel and biting into a mouth-watering lobster roll that leaves you feeling absolutely sated and complete, as if your day has somehow come full circle. This is precisely the ethos behind all dining concepts at the Hall.”
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The Hall is the first East Coast hotel from Joie de Vivre, a boutique hotel brand from San Francisco-based Commune Hotels & Resorts. The 164-room hotel will take over three art deco buildings, including the Haddon Hall, designed by deco master L. Murray Dixon. Dixon's other projects included the Ritz Hotel (now the SLS), the Tides, and the Tudor. The redesigned property will offer an Olympic-size swimming pool, cabanas, and colorful pathways connecting the building.
Robert McKinley was also tapped to design the hotel's guest rooms. Shades of orange and green walls and furnishings are complemented by original hardwood flooring and photographs of beaches and surfers by photographer Scott Rudin. It also looks are though the hotel will be dog-friendly, as evidenced by many photos of cozy pooches on the Joie de Vivre Facebook page.