This past Sunday, January 13, marked the one year anniversary for one of Biscayne's top newcomers of 2012, Blue Collar. The man behind this unpretentious, American comfort food is owner/chef Daniel Serfer. Located in the Biscayne corridor's upcoming MiMo neighborhood, the small diner-like spot has gathered a widespread cult following of Miami's food enthusiasts for its mom-and-pop feel with Serfer being in the kitchen and making sure guests are satisfied daily. Eater sat down with Serfer and talked about his first year and first restaurant. Heads up fans: they're closing for a couple days next week to redo the floors, but don't worry, they will reopen on Thursday with the kitchen hot and ready to serve that famous bread pudding.
How did Blue Collar come to be?
When I moved back down here from New York, no one would hire me, so I guess I had to 'buy' a job to get one. I had a couple offers, but they weren't good enough for me. I wanted to create a place that I would want to eat in- just some place doing a basic chicken and vegetables or whatever I wanted without all the hoopla of these other restaurants. The name Blue Collar was kind of a reaction. This girl thought we were dating once-she was a lawyer- and her friend said something like, 'how can you date him? He's so blue collar; he's a cook!'
How did the opening go?
Surprisingly smooth. We did about four nights of media dinners and friends and family leading up to it, and by the time we opened to the public we had the staff doing a good job, letting us build a following pretty quickly. The first guy I hired is still with us.
A year later, what has changed at the restaurant?
We're changing the floor out this coming Monday so that's the biggest change. We'll be closed Monday through Wednesday next week and reopen Thursday the 24th. The menu has been through several changes (there's soylent green on the veggie menu), the hours have been tweaked a little, but the core philosophy and mission statement about what kind of restaurant we are and what we serve has not changed, just been expanded further.
What are the challenges you face opening your first restaurant?
It's funny. When I started, I was taking out the garbage and cleaning everything at Chef Allen and got paid very little. Now, I own a place, and for a while I got to do all those things and get paid very little as well. So the beginning of restaurant ownership is very much like the beginning of your career in the kitchen. You don't really see that coming and nobody really tells you about that. The challenges are also in finding the right balance of hours and people to make the whole place jive.
What is your focus at the restaurant right now?
We have so many regulars that we want to continually be able to offer them new stuff so they don't get sick of it.
What's been your biggest success at the restaurant this past year?
Being open for a year. For most restaurants, that's the benchmark. They close within a year. Another success would probably be beating out Yardbird at Iron Fork, it was kind of like Rocky 4 (laughs).
When you're not at the Blue Collar, where are you eating out?
Right now, Josh's Deli, Momi Ramen, and Khong.
What does Blue Collar have in store for the future?
I hope we can get something else going... Something to accommodate more people since we're limited on our space. Maybe something close by where we can meet new people that want to eat here. Something's in the works (as he grins).