Tonight marks the one-year anniversary of one of Miami Beach's top newcomers, Villa Azur. The stylish French spot has been quickly growing in popularity with locals and tourists alike since it's opening in 2012 and gaining a vast amount of praise for its elegant atmosphere and detail-oriented approach. Its Côte d'Azur inspired name is quite authentic, and a nearly all-French staff that does everything "the French way", is there to prove it. Eater sat down with one of the owners, Michael Martin, and spoke about one year in at the restaurant.
How did Villa Azur come to be?
It's a long story. I'm here in Miami since 17 years, in the nightlife business. For a long time I was telling my best friend to come here because he has a few restaurants in St. Tropez and at the same time my older friend Olivier Martinez [ed: actor and Halle Berry beau] who was coming to Miami was telling me we should do a restaurant. I started looking for a place and I finally found this place with such a nice outdoor and the first day I saw it, I knew it was the place. I told them I found the place and we put everything together.
How did the opening go?
It was great. Everybody was surprised with the space, nobody had any idea what an outdoor space it had.
A year later, what has changed at the restaurant?
A year later the restaurant has a full structure in the kitchen and a very good service.
What are the challenges you faced opening your first restaurant?
The first restaurant is always a big challenge, but I was lucky to have a partner who has been for more than 20 years in the restaurant business.
What is your focus at the restaurant right now?
The focus is to make the customers happy, for them to have a unique experience in a great atmosphere and to leave with a big smile.
What's been your biggest success at the restaurant this past year?
Our biggest success is everyday when people leave the restaurant very happy but one of the big nights was when the same night Leonardo Dicaprio, Gerard Butler, Mel Gibson, Jonah Hill, Olivier Martinez and Halle Berry was having dinner.
When you are not at Villa Azur, where do you like eating out?
When I'm not here I like Casa Tua, I like Milos, La Piaggia on Sunday. And also Hakkasan.
What does Villa Azur have in store for the future?
We're looking at an expansion with a lounge. It's going to be more like a membership club, where you're going to need a membership card to come in or for the best clients at the restaurant. And we're negotiating right now in New York, Dubai and London. The goal is to open a new one every year. This year we're going to open the private membership club.
·All Coverage of Villa Azur [ ~EMIA~ ]
· All One Year In Coverage [ ~EMIA~ ]