After years of managing restaurants in France, restaurateur/chef Yann Rio left his home town for Miami, where he opened a restaurant named after a Frank Sinatra song called Nothing But The Best. Though its been only a little over a month since his Miami venture quietly opened up, its already garnered a local following as well as several of regulars. Eater spoke to Rio about the first month in, his biggest challenges and the future at the restaurant.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your other restaurants in France.
Before opening my own place, I worked with the best chefs in France at the best restaurants including the Hôtel de Crillon and Le Pré Catelan. Then, I opened my restaurant SEQUOIA in Montpellier in 2001. It was an amazing experience because my restaurant became recognized very quickly for the quality and atmosphere. It was nominated in all the food guides the first year, including the prestigious Michelin Guide. In 2008, I was given the national Maitre Restaurateur Award, which was a great honor recognizing how well I was running my restaurant.
How do you think Nothing But The Best differs from your other concepts?
Nothing But The Best is really different from other restaurants in Miami for a few reasons. Firstly, it is an owner/chef restaurant, which allows for a lot of freedom of creation and investment in ingredients. Secondly, there really isn't another restaurant doing the kind of cuisine we're doing. It's modern French. Not a 'greatest hits' of the dishes Americans think of when considering classic French cuisine, but rather the kind of unique, high-quality dishes you would get to eat if you got to go to France and eat at a very nice restaurant. We're not stuffy, and we're open to special requests from our regular clients.
Overall, how was the first month at the restaurant?
Overall, it's been good. I'm learning that staffing is a challenge in Miami, but we're running smoother every day. Word of mouth has helped us more than we imagined, and weekends are really getting busy! My biggest complaint is with Yelp! We had so many 5-star reviews after it opened that they were worried they were not authentic and took some down. I haven't told anyone what to write and I'm not that tech savvy myself!
How was the restaurant initially received?
Everyone goes crazy at first for the decor and the art on the walls. I think it creates a good atmosphere. But after people get their food, they are most excited about that. People like the plating, which is very pleasing to the eye.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced this month?
Well, it hasn't been easy to go from France, where I have a very well-known reputation, to Miami, where I am (as-yet) unknown. I just moved here five months ago and don't know too many people. Our GM just finally arrived and started. He is very experienced and speaks French, English and Spanish, so this will help us a lot.
Any plans for the future?
Yes, this month we have been invited to be at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival's Grand Tasting (on Saturday) on Feb 22nd, so we are excited to do that and be with all the great American talents. At the festival and the restaurant, we're just going to keep trying to do nothing but the best!
· All Coverage of Nothing But The Best [EMIA]
[Photo Credit: Sergi Alexander]