How we feel about the reopening of restaurants in Miami

AN OPINION PIECE BY THE HUNGRY POST

Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece, our thought process and editorial take on eating out and restaurants reopening in Miami. This is not news but it does reference news articles. If you have any feedback, we won’t necessarily agree with you but we’ll listen. Reach out to us HERE.

We’ve been purposely holding back on writing our thoughts about the reopening of restaurants in Miami. We’ve been overwhelmed on how to best balance supporting the restaurants we love while being mindful and protecting the health of the general public. This is by no means our job but we can’t always rely on our government officials to be transparent. It’s tricky. So who do we trust?… 

We’ve gone through all the emotions. Dining out makes us nervous. We know that some restaurants have already re-opened, more are in the process, while others are hanging in there and only offering delivery at this time. It’s inevitable. We live in a world where business must continue. Once the government gave the “OK”, people started flocking the dining world that we used to know. We’ve witnessed more cars on the streets and busy neighborhoods have begun “normalizing” a night out. 

We’re not doctors specialized in infectious diseases, we are not restaurant operators, we’re just humans that love to eat and write about food. So again, we’re not here to pass judgment, because frankly who are we to do that? We just want to point out several things we are considering as we proceed with caution.

On June 4th, Florida recorded 1,413 cases of COVID-19, that’s the highest number since the Department of Health first started collecting data back in March. This could be because testing has increased. However, Harvard’s Global Health Institute has created a real-time tool where you can input your state and see how much testing each state needs to contain the outbreak. Doesn’t seem like Florida is doing enough, not testing enough people is a red flag. 

We’re in the business of bringing people together through food and that seems daunting and limited right now. It is the most fucking slippery slope we’ve ever come across. We don’t necessarily have all the answers. But what are restaurants supposed to do? If they are only receiving zero to minimal help from the federal government, many can’t afford to stay closed or only operate with takeout. We keep saying it and we’ll say it one more time for the crowd in the back, restaurants operating at 50% capacity is not sustainable. But if that’s all they can do, then that’s what they will do to survive.

The hospitality community in Miami is resilient. We’ve seen it before, COVID-19, we saw it during COVID-19 and we’ll see it after. So as we start dining out we want to implore that you don’t let your guard down. Trust your gut. Do your due diligence in communicating with restaurants about what they are doing. Restaurant owners and staff members will hear you, so talk to them. Feel out the situation when you arrive. If you don’t feel good about something, say something. Follow the CDC guidelines and continue to stay at home if you are older than 65, if you have chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, have heart conditions, diabetes and more. If you aren’t ready to go out continue supporting restaurants through takeout. Oh, and customers: don’t be dicks and respect restaurant establishment and their rules. Reminder: we’re not here to convince you to eat out or stay in, we’re just here to put the cards on the table.

We live and breathe restaurants and as we move forward in sharing where to dine out for special occasions or not so special occasions we had to chat with some of the restaurant owners in our community. These phone and email conversations gave us comfort. These restaurants are as prepared as they can be and they are doing their best.

Some of the responses below have been edited for clarity and length. Please note that these are not the only restaurants that are being cautious and taking precautionary measures. These are just some of the restaurants that we have spoken with for this piece. That being said, we will continue to share what other restaurants are doing to keep their teams and patrons safe through our platforms.

EATING HOUSE


Eating House was one of the first to open at 50% capacity with indoor and outdoor dining. Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli and his Eating House team have extended outdoor dining and placed a tent so guests can eat with shade. He has 6 tables inside, 3 under the tent and 3 outdoor tables adjacent to the indoor area of the restaurant. Currently, he is offering disposable menus or a barcode on the wall where you can scan with your phone to see the menu. He is also offering paper and plastic cups. He’s established easy handles on the door of the restaurant so you don’t have to use your hands. The bathroom flush and disposable soap are both touch-free. 

If you want to order delivery CLICK HERE or call 305-448-6524

Photo by: Eating House Miami

GHEE INDIAN KITCHEN


Ghee is currently open at 50% capacity for dining with indoor and outdoor seating available. Chef Niven Patel and his Ghee team had been continuously communicating before the re-opening. It was important for him to make sure that his team felt safe. On a normal Friday before the COVID-19 outbreak, Ghee would serve over 200 guests. Now they are only allowing 50 guests indoors. Chef Niven is okay with that. He doesn’t want to do more than that, the safety of his team and guests is his main priority. The team at Ghee is also providing brown bags for guests to store their masks so they don’t have to place them on the table or chairs. Every 30 minutes they are sanitizing the restaurant. The Ghee team has also created a document with the guidelines they are following to keep their restaurant safe. Check them out HERE.

If you want to order delivery CLICK HERE 

Photo by: Giovanny Gutierrez

KUSH HOSPITALITY


(Stephen’s Deli, LoKal, Vicky’s House, Kush Wynwood, and Kush Coconut Grove)

Matt Kush of Kush hospitality has reopened Stephen’s Deli, LoKal, Vicky’s House and Kush Wynwood with limited seating. Spillover is going through a rebrand into another Kush concept. The new Kush Coconut Grove will open in mid-June. They are sanitizing all of their restaurants with Bio Safety Inc. They are being inspected by Brunswick Food Service Educators. They are logging temperatures of all their employees daily. They are retraining their staff on how to safely serve their guests. They are wearing masks and emphasizing constant hand washing.

If you want to order delivery CLICK HERE 

Photo by: Kush Hospitality – LoKal

RUSTY PELICAN


Chef Jim Pastor reopened Rusty Pelican on May 27. They have spent a lot of time training their staff on the new operating procedures, those imposed by the city and those they developed internally. The patrons that have come in are wearing masks and abiding by the new guidelines. They are fortunate to have a large patio and dining room and have moved some tables around to improve spacing and to practice social distancing. The measures they are taking have been laid out on their website so customers can read up and feel safe and secure. They have an electrostatic fogger that they are using before they open and after they close the restaurant to disinfect the dining room. They are also in the process of installing UV lighting in their AC to kill all viruses and bacteria; it essentially washes the air. Right now they are focusing on their dining room operations but will eventually offer to go and take out.

Call +1 305-361-3818 for take out

Photo by: Rusty Pelican

STANZIONE 87


Franco Stanzione has chosen not to reopen their dining room until they can operate at 100% capacity; their model only works at full capacity. They will be making some changes to the restaurant to better serve guests safely in the coming weeks. Some major changes will be coming to the restaurant to help diversify their offerings. Franco decided to close the dining room before the city mandated it and installed a 6ft bar in the entrance. He has received a lot of positive feedback from his guests. They also adjusted their menu and have received a ton of praise and support. They have seen an increased interest in their natural wine selection, subs (WHICH ARE DELICIOUS), frozen pizzas, and pizza kits.

If you want to order delivery CLICK HERE 

Photo by: Gen in Miami

NIU KITCHEN


Karina Iglesias of NIU Kitchen is working on a plan for reopening together with her partners and team. They don’t have the date defined but they are planning for June. Karina admits “the new normal” isn’t very sexy but the NIU team is working with what they have. They have hired a company to sanitize the restaurant regularly, they will enforce social distance, and they are coming up with a manual that will be posted on their website to answer any questions from their customers. They will be moving Niu Kitchen to their Arson location (next door) to provide more space for patrons and employees.

If you want to order delivery CLICK HERE 

Photo by: Giovanny Gutierrez

MACCHIALINA


Jaqueline Pirolo and the Macchialina team plan to re-open in mid-June. 

Jackie shares our similar sentiment about people not following the precautions set up within phase 1. She worries that people will behave as though this is life pre-pandemic and we will see a resurgence of cases in the coming weeks. 50% capacity at Macchialina is about 30 diners at one time. But less when you have to space tables out at a 6-foot distance which is not sustainable long term. Their management team along with their entire staff is contributing to the re-opening plan. They are having weekly zoom meetings to discuss what the new scope of dining out looks like, how they can ensure safety for our staff and guests and how they can still create an experience that people have learned to expect when they dine at Macchialina. They are working on new service/training manuals. When Macchialina does re-open, they will still have a strong takeout presence for those guests that prefer to stay at home or are not ready to dine out. They will still be offering their pasta kits to go. They will also have some kits available that are for entertaining a few friends at home, should that be an option guests feel more comfortable with.  

Photo by: Macchialina

BOIA DE


Chef Luciana Giangrandi and her team have not re-opened. They want to see how other restaurants are responding to the current circumstances and gauge the response from the public. Chef Luci admits that there’s no good answer to the situation, but they want to make sure that how they move forward benefits their staff, guests and the business. Chef Luci acknowledges that it’s hard to tell if re-opening is appropriate. There are so many factors to consider, but the most important is safety. At some point though, she says they have to do it. 50% capacity means 12 people at most for the Boia De team. As for sustainability, they’ve run the numbers, and it’s possible, but they need to sell out every evening. Once they re-open they will be following all comprehensive guidelines from the CDC and taking all measures possible to ensure the safety of their staff while as minimally as possible infringing on the overall experience customers have come to know Boia De for. If you don’t feel comfortable dining out yet, they will continue to sell wine at retail and items from their larder that you won’t be able to find at most grocery stores. Sidenote: their Boia De Roasted Garlic vinaigrette is divine and don’t even get us started on the wine program that Bianca Sanon, Beverage Director has put together.

Hoping for a vaccine in the middle or end of winter, please Dr. Fauci we don’t want that second wave.

If you want to order delivery CLICK HERE(currently unavailable but we’ll keep you updated)

Photo By: Kris Tamburello

TOMORROWLAND


Fritz Victor,  Jessica Fuentes and the team of  Tomorrowland are preparing to open on June 26th. They will be taking measures to make sure their team and guests are safe. This includes temperature checks for all staff upon arrival. They will offer wipes outside of doors to grab handles. They will have extra masks readily available for guests who may have forgotten theirs at home. Other actions they are taking includes adding touchless sanitizers and soap dispensers. The tables will be six feet apart with stickers on the floor for guests who are waiting to be seated and for the usage of restrooms. Tomorrowland will also have disposable menus, roll-ups for utensils, no preset glassware, plates or condiments. The Tomorrowland team will be using this time to step up their game and add additional steps of service. Their servers are now providing everything tableside. From pouring olive oil for our guests’ dishes to running their credit card. They are reopening with a local farmers market on the weekends that will include fresh local produce, juices, flowers, merchandise and bottles of wine.

If you want to order delivery CLICK HERE 

Photo by: Tomorrowland Miami