The latest offering Stephen Starr made to Miami was Verde Restaurant and Bar, an international bistro with an emphasis on fresh and healthy offerings, which opened up a few weeks ago at what was probably Miami's most exciting opening of the year, Perez Art Museum Miami (or PAMM). Eater spoke with general manager Rory Gurland about the new restaurant's first week, the most popular menu items so far, and what's coming next at Verde. Here's the scoop:
Tell me a little bit about how you got involved with Verde.
Well I am actually a Starr Restaurants veteran. I worked at Makoto down here in Bal Harbor and also being a native of Miami I've been watching the Perez Art Museum come up and when I found out that Starr Events was going to be the exclusive food provider here and there was a position here, I couldn't be more excited. It was like a dream job for me, to be involved in the museum and also be with such a great restaurant organization.
How did the first week go?
The first week was actually amazing. We opened during Basel, which is a challenge and one of the busiest weeks of the year for us. So, it's not easy to open a restaurant at any time of year, but doing so during Basel, we really hit the ground running and the response has been amazing. Big crowds and everyone here to see the museum open up and the response to the restaurant was just spectacular.
How did that opening go, anything surprising about it?
Honestly, the biggest surprise was really how great the response has been. We kind of expected that we would have a lot of people visiting the museum and not so sure of how a restaurant fits in a museum and who is going to come … if you're going to see more of transient guests, of people who are tourists visiting. The community overall is just really excited to have us here. Between having a museum here and having a restaurant with the location that we have, with this view, we couldn't have asked for something better.
What are the customers like?
We have people that are here to visit the museum and then find out about the restaurant because they want to have lunch. We also have a tremendous amount of people that are part of the community that helps get the museum here, who love us as well. And then we have people who actually live nearby that just wanted to come and have a new place to go to lunch. There are a lot of people who live Downtown and there aren't a lot of lunch spots like we have here on the water, with a view. So, there's a good mix and we're really happy to cater to everybody. Obviously from a restaurant standpoint you want to have your locals, not just people coming into the museum, so having that mix is really important for us.
What were some of the challenges that you've encountered so far?
Well, just getting off the ground during Basel. We also do events here so during Basel week we had events every single day, day and night, so being able to manage a new space that was just freshly opened and being able to figure out how to throw amazing events and also open up a restaurant, is a lot. But we did it. We really hit the ground running and I couldn't be more proud to be a part of that.
What are some of the most popular dishes so far?
Some of our more popular dishes and our favorites … we have amazing pizzas, probably the best one that people are responding to is our squash blossom pizza … it has goat cheese, squash blossom zucchini. We also have a fantastic kale and faro dish, which represents kind of some of the lighter, cleaner dishes that go in line with our concept, Verde. In addition to that, people love our sandwiches, our burger is very popular and we have a fantastic chicken club as well.
Anything in store for the future?
Well, we're going to be launching a brunch menu and I think that given our location and the space that we have when we do get that off the ground, it's going to be spectacular. It's right on the water, off Biscayne Bay … people that live in Miami Beach or Miami can all meet and have a great brunch together. Plus we're open for dinner once a week, so just developing the dinner menu and having more at night will also be coming down the road as well.
· All Coverage of Verde on Eater [EMIA]