In 2010, restaurateurs Andreas Schreiner, Jose Mendin and Sergio Navarro opened up the first restaurant in what was to become a mini-empire of creative endeavors, Pubbelly. Since then, they've opened several more including PB steak, Barcelonetta and Macchialina (which was recently taken over by chef Michael Pirolo) all stamped with the signature Pubbelly twist.
Four years, numerous restaurants and countless good reviews later, the Pubbelly boys are launching L'echon Brasserie at Hilton Cabana, their first French restaurant and their first hotel operation. In the following interview, Andreas Schreiner dishes on how L'echon came to be, the trio's creative process and developing the menu.
Tell me a little bit about the concept behind L'echon and your process when coming up with a new idea.
It's multifaceted. When we were approached to do the food and beverage for the operation, we analyzed what the market needs, what we would like to do. We always in our – I call it our backpack of restaurants – we have all these amazing ideas that we're constantly throwing amongst ourselves and as true entrepreneurs and workaholics, we never stop the creative juices. If we wanted to, we could open 20 restaurants with all the ideas that we have, but we kind of work around them and we've always talked about wanting to do a French concept. French food is what we were all classically trained in and we all love great French cuisine, especially when its nice and rustic, bistro, brasserie fare. And we thought that Miami never really had a place like that, especially Miami Beach and we really wanted to be kind of the first to prove that French food can work here, just like it works in other major cities. And we wanted to put our own spin on it. So we saw a great opportunity to open it inside the hotel and we started developing it. They were looking for a food and beverage operator and got to know our restaurants and fell in love with Pubbelly and Pubbelly Sushi and were really insistent that we threw our hat into the proposal.
At the time we were doing so many other things. We were getting ready to open Macchialina and all these other things, so I wasn't really too sure about it, but they were really adamant that they wanted to have local guys run the operation. We were competing against top New York restaurateurs that they were also talking to, but we sat together and looked at the project and talked about it and said this would be an interesting operation. I had been a hotel guy for many years before I went independent, so I worked with Four Seasons for a six years, I opened hotels and worked every position in food and beverage management, so I felt very comfortable in running a food and beverage operation in a hotel. So, I told the team, "listen I feel comfortable we can do this" and I knew we could definitely create a food and beverage operation in a hotel that would be very different than what's already out there and give it a really cool, independent feel. That's what really attracted the ownership of the hotel. In the end, they chose us over the New Yorkers, which was quite astounding. This happened over a year and a half ago. The hotel went into construction and we went into developing the concept.
Back in the summer you guys were still developing the menu. How's that coming along now?
The menu's coming out really great. I'd say its about 90% done. Right now it's in the test stages. Everybody's inside PB Steak using it as a test kitchen and testing all the recipes just to make sure that they make sense. We're waiting for all our china and glassware samples to arrive so then we can plan on those and be able to take it to the next step. The menu will change and get tweaked again once we get on site because once we get into the new kitchen and look at space and storage capabilities and all of the other logistical factors that go into using a new property – things will change a bit. But for now, we're in a good place with how the menu looks. I've had the pleasure of tasting quite a few dishes and I have to say that they are phenomenal. They really made my mouth water just thinking about them. So, it's going to be a cool treat for anybody in town.
What's one of your favorite dishes on the menu?
The new escargot dish that I tried yesterday was out of this world. I can't diverge to much on it, but it was spectacular. The bone marrow came out phenomenal, the rabbit dumplings are very, very, very, very good. Everything is being made with such care and the ingredients are being chosen so well, but at the same time they're very unique and different. We took classical French cuisine and put a Pubbelly spin on it, so it's pretty cool.
What are you most excited about for L'echon?
I am most excited to operate a French restaurant and have that in the gamut of our company. But more so than just L'echon is the whole F&B operation. It'll be our first and hopefully not our last. Being able to manage that logistically and make it a success will be a very special moment for us. We'll have a beach club and indoor dining and all the property is going to be handled by us, so we're looking forward to a little Pubbelly-infused world within this little boutique hotel. Just being able to see all the different food concepts and everything being executed properly is what I'm looking forward to. Just having a smile on my face when I walk in.
When should we expect the restaurant to open?
Well, right now, we're looking at the last days of February or the first days of March. The hotel itself is a brand new construction from a building that used to be there so construction logistics have been pushing back the project. Food and beverage wise we're pretty much ready to go, but the owners of the property want to open everything up together. Once they give us the green light, we'll be ready to go. It'll happen very quickly, but as in every brand new construction there's always a delay here and there. At the end of the day it just gives us a little more time to practice.
· All Coverage of L'echon Brasserie [EMIA]
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