For a city by the water Miami sure lacks the bustling seafood scene it should have, but that may change with the opening of Lure Fishbar. It is, after all, the New York original that sparked a protest Tumblr page after closing rumors emerged. The seafood joint that first opened in SoHo back in 2004 is blessing our city with its decadent entrees, exquisite oysters and fresh sushi selections. And if the New York location looks like an elegant yacht cabin, then its Miami counterpart has transformed the historic St. Moritz building at the Loews into a classic yacht club dining room complete with a sweeping ocean view, lush outdoor terrace and an oaky, worn-in feel that's refreshing amongst cold, modern interiors that frequent SoBe. Eater sat down with Lure owner John McDonald and executive chef and partner Josh Capon to get the details on South Beach's latest seafood venture, set to open on December 2nd. Here's what they had to say:
Why did you choose to open a second Lure location in Miami?
John McDonald: The joke is, and I don't know who the hell said this the first time, but it's the idea that South Beach and Miami are almost like the sixth borough of Manhattan.
Josh Capon: First of all it's a very easy commute, it's very accessible and it's very nice. I mean we've been approached by Vegas a couple of times and we all kind of looked at each other at least then and were like "you know what? It's just schlep." We just didn't want to do the Vegas game. Miami really seemed like the right city.
JM: There's a lot of reasons. It's the proximity. It's the easy flight. Miami is a very dining, nightlife, cultural city. People are wired to be out and kind of indulgent and a little bit decadent on the whole. You know it used to be that it was too many months of the year that it was too slow and you see that shrinking and shrinking. That makes it more viable for all the businesses that kind of appeal to that market. And everybody's down here now.
What made you decide to open here at the Loews, or in South Beach as opposed to the mainland neighborhoods in the city?
JC: I think it was really the right opportunity at the right time and I think the Loews hotel was the perfect fit, the perfect home for us. I think the setting is beautiful. I like to say we went from below sea level to above sea level. We're overlooking the ocean as we speak. I think the restaurant concept itself works really well down here. I mean, it's just a great seafood restaurant with lots of options from raw bar to sushi to meats. I think it's a great restaurant scene already down here but I think Lure could be a great addition. We obviously have some big shoes to fill from taking [Emeril Lagasse's] space. Emeril is a friend and a mentor to me and I'm honored that we're taking over his restaurant that was here for 7 years and we're just trying to carry on the tradition.
JM: I think it's ironic that there's not a lot of places you can really sit and actually see the ocean. I mean… it's great when you're at Juvia and have that amazing view, but just specifically be on the ocean? So many of the restaurants that are in the hotels are either blocked by the pool or you're set back really far.
JC: I think the locals over here obviously really take that for granted. But when you're coming down here to visit, you know to me I'd rather be sitting out on the ocean eating great seafood, oysters and drinking great stuff.
JM: I think what's nice is that we're only doing dinner. We're not a hotel service restaurant. We're not doing breakfast, we're not doing lunch and we're not doing pool. No room service. It allows the whole team just to focus on how do we make this dining experience as good as possible?
JC: Hopefully we'll have a killer brunch service. But you know, we have to walk first before we can rush.
If you were to visit Lure for your first time, what's one dish you couldn't pass up?
JC: I can't answer that question. Everything's so great. We have a killer raw bar, a great sushi program. The whole grilled Dourade is one of my favorites just because it's a perfectly whole grilled fish. We take out all the bones and it's very easy to eat.You can have a bash burger too! There's a lot of options. My menus are very eatable, very approachable. In New York we have people that eat at the restaurant 3 to 5 times a week. I hope we get that down here, but there's a reason.
JM: Do you know the story behind the Bash Burger? We've won 4 out of 5 years. We have a hamburger that is both at Lure and B&B and we've won the Food and Wine Festival's burger bash four out of five years.
JC: Yeah, we're opening a killer seafood restaurant in Miami with a burger.
What are some ideas for exclusive Miami dishes that you might have?
JC: Some Latino flairs, some curry, probably some chorizo, some Cuban stuff. We're obviously opening up with a menu that we're comfortable with, but we definitely want to explore some other areas.
So why choose Lure Fishbar to open a second location here in Miami as opposed to your other popular New York restaurant ventures, B&B and El Toro Blanco?
JM: This is just more appropriate for this market. To be honest with you, there's an opportunity if the space feels right and the location feels right that we' would do one of the others but this just happened to be the right match.
So what's it like having worked together for so long?
JM: Well Josh and I have been together for ten years so it's kind of like a marriage. When you work with someone for a long time it's almost, in this case, he's been married for, how many years?
JC: Not as long as I've been married to you.
Josh Pickard has done a great job here with The Dutch at the W and the three of you have seen success with Lure in New York. What's it like joining forces with him again?
JC: Pickard is the best. I mean, nobody takes care of business like Josh Pickard. He's really involved in every aspect of the business and he does a very good job of doing so. He's extremely organized and I don't know how he handles the amount of emails he gets every day, because as a chef I can barely keep up with the ones that I have. But he does a really, really good job.
What's the main difference between opening up in New York and opening up in Miami?
JM: Like anything, when we opened up in New York we were in our base, our home. The dynamic is different. And I think here in particular there's more pressure on us. We're really anxious to get it right. Here we have to rely on our team a little bit more in terms of our top managers and our chef on the ground and trust them and hope they're going to really deliver and bring that local knowledge to really get it right. Because you can't force New York culture and New York rules on other markets. I think you see that happening a lot and it's a big mistake.
What has been your biggest challenge yet opening in a city you're not as familiar with?
JC: I think for me just setting up new purveyors and getting the product I'm used to getting. In New York I have long standing relationships whether it's with kitchen equipment or actual products like fish or produce… that's what this business is all about: just creating new relationships, new friendships.
What inspires you to keep going every day with your restaurant ventures?
JC: I love what I do. I love cooking but I also think we love building teams. I hope people are really excited to come work here. We've hired some of the best in the business down here like our general managers Sol Alvarez and Seth Alvarez and our beverage director Rob Ferrara. Our executive chef down here is Jeff Raider who actually relocated from New York for the opportunity. We really cherry-picked some serious talent down here because we can't run this restaurant from New York. We don't want to run this restaurant from New York. We want to hire serious Miami talent and I think we did a really great job in terms of back of the house, front of the house. We're building a team to really be proud to run this establishment and to be a part of this family.
· All Coverage of Lure Fishbar [EMIA]
— Ashley Brozic