The Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board gave its stamp of approval to plans for an upscale restaurant to be programmed by two-star Michelin Chef Thierry Marx. MILA Miami will serve “a mix of Japanese and Mediterranean fare” in the recently added rooftop area at 800 Lincoln Road.
In addition to design approval, the operators asked for a variance to exceed the hours of operation for an outdoor bar area. Under City Code, the outdoor bar counter would be required to close at midnight though alcohol could be served on the outdoor terrace from the indoor bar until 2 am.
Attorney Michael Larkin noted the high-end nature of the restaurant saying Marx would be in town for three weeks for training with the restaurant’s chefs “to make sure they meet his standards.” Music will be played at ambient levels only, he said. There will no entertainment or DJs in the restaurant or on the outdoor dining terrace.
MILA will have a total of 247 seats, 150 inside and 97 outdoors.
“It’s really important for you all to understand the gravity of this,” Larkin told the Board members. “Restaurants on Lincoln Road are disappearing left and right. You can throw a bowling ball down certain sections of Lincoln Road and not hit a sidewalk café table or chair. The rents are such that restaurants are not coming back to actually front Lincoln Road anymore.”
Using the recently opened Lincoln Eatery on Meridian and the soon to open Timeout Market on Drexel both just off of Lincoln Road as examples, Larkin said, “We’re trying to find innovative spaces to place restaurants and the rooftops are seemingly the next place to go… the land use patterns are finding a way to evolve and re-emerge and come back in different ways based upon the market conditions.”
Speaking to the request to keep the outdoor bar counter open until 2 am, he said closing the outdoor bar would overwhelm the indoor bar. Given the City’s late night dining culture, he said shutting down the outdoor bar at midnight would be closing it at a “critical dining time.” In a world of brutal online reviews, he said, if customers have a bad experience because they have to wait a long time for service, they will never come back and others will stay away after reading negative reviews.
Larkin said the Planning Board last month approved a 2 am closing time for the outdoor bar counter.
HPB member Scott Needelman noted “The Planning Board has oversight and can change hours if there’s a problem.”
With the commercial nature of the surrounding area, the Historic Preservation Board members were persuaded to give their approval of the variance.
Member Rick Lopez commented on the amount of open space and landscaping. “I think it’s fascinating the phenomenon of the restaurants shifting up to the rooftops and I think it’s great to see this much open space on the rooftop and I think it’s an enhancement to Lincoln Road to have these gardens up there.”
“I think the project is fabulous. You did a wonderful job,” Member Nancy Liebman said. “It’s such a higher quality than what we’re used to when you go down to Lincoln Road so it would be nice if you showed that we have a higher standard on Lincoln Road because that is slipping. There’s a lot of empty stores, very pathetic… I think it’s hurting over there so you’re establishing a new culture and I hope it lasts.”
The Board also unanimously approved the design.
Thierry Marx is listed as Executive Chef & Partner. According to his bio, he received his first Michelin Star at “Roc en Val” in Tours, France, in 1988, and another Michelin star at “Cheval Blanc” in Nimes, in 1991. He later spent a few years training in Asia and still spends a few months a year in Japan. In 2016, he opened the fine dining restaurant “Bistro Marx” in Ginza, Tokyo. Since April 2010, he has been Executive Chef at Mandarin Oriental, Paris for the 2 Michelin Star “Sur-mesure by Theirry Marx” and “Le Camelia.”
This is Marx’s first foray into the U.S.
Rendering: STA Architectural Group