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Duo Miami Closed - what's up with Brickell?

I only ate here once about 3 years ago and remember it being good. The other day I saw a U-Haul truck outside of it and yesterday a friend commented that there was an eviction notice on the door. Too bad, it seemed like a nice addition to the neighborhood. Which brings me to the question - what's up with Brickell? In the last few years we've seen come and go La Broche, Mosaico, Salero and now Duo yet places like PF Changs and Oceanaire enjoy a robust business. Is that where Brickell's tastes are?

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  1. Wow! I only ate there once a few years ago too and stopped for a glass of wine a couple of times. It was very good and had a good wine list. I especially loved the space. It reminded me of places in LA. The chains seem to be assaulting Miami. Could we get a Benihana in the old Pacific Time location.

    2 Replies
    1. re: 2top

      I love Benihana and I think South Beach would benefit from a hibachi type restaurant, but has anyone been to the "new, improved and modern" Beni's lately? Went to the one in Coral Gables and the place was completely devoid of the Japanese kitsch the chain was known for. It's now more reminiscent of a Sweet tomatoes or a cafeteria. Cold, no warmth and nothing remotely japanese--not even the chefs, none of whom were Asian! I miss the old Benihanas!

      1. re: HabaneroJane

        Jane>

        If you really want the wacky knife wielding chef-technics of old school Benihana, try the newest location of Sushi Siam in the refurbished restaurant space across from the movie theaters in Aventura Mall. Smart smart smart owners of this Dade county Thai chain have two Benihana style grills with red-high-hat-wearing-knife-swirling chefs...

        We stopped at the bar one night before a flick and were amazed to see the action around the grills. We did not stay for dinner - just grazed on a few sushi rolls and apps at the bar. Every seat was filed and foks were cheering for the happy chefs...

        AG

    2. That's a bummer. I had heard good things about Duo and never got there to try it. I think location in Brickell may be key. The places in the high-traffic zone north of Coral Way seem to have generally done well - Rosinella, Perricone, River Oyster Bar, now PF Chang and Oceanaire. Duo had a sort of odd location on the "wrong" side of Coral Way - though I can't really say that's the reason it didn't make it.

      La Broche and Mosaico may have been too "intellectual" for Brickell - or Miami, for that matter. It would seem anyone going for the high-end restaurant might want to avoid Brickell, though.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Frodnesor

        I heard that Table 8 on South Beach was closing too. What else is closing and what's going on down here?!

        1. re: HabaneroJane

          Where'd you hear about Table 8? I thought they were doing OK.

          1. re: lax2mia

            thru the grapevine I hear they arent doing that well. who knows tho. I also heard Evolution was closing too!

            1. re: HabaneroJane

              I'd put my money on Evolution closing not Table 8. But I'm out of the loop.

            2. re: lax2mia

              Table 8 is alive and well!!! Govind is in town for Miami Spice.

        2. What's Oceanaire?

          Does anyone know the name of the downtown restaurant that opened around the same time as the new theater? It had beautiful glass sculptures inside? Did it close too?

          I'm wondering if the Miami closings have anythign to do with the high prices and inconsistent service. I don't get down that way very often, but whenever I've been, many places have servers with attitude or they're just lousy in general.

          Sadly, it's not much better up here in Boca/North Broward either.

          2 Replies
          1. re: OysterHo

            Oceanaire is a seafood place in Mary Brickell Village (a new Cocowalk-like retail development that thus far has nothing open other than the restaurant, as far as I can tell) which is a "mini-chain" along the model of Morton's or Capital Grill (i.e. maybe about a dozen locations around the country). Think of a higher-end steakhouse, but with fish & seafood instead of steak. Pretty genuine focus on procuring nice fresh seafood, and I've had one good and a couple decent meals there, but prices have shot up rapidly since they first opened. When I was there for lunch they had a $45 (!!!!) tuna dish on the menu - for lunch!?! Though there are also some salad and sandwich type items under $20.

            If true, I'd have to think that the failure of Table 8 and/or Evolution would put a real damper on the inrush of chefs from around the country trying their hand in Miami. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing as we have some talented local chefs. I would not be remotely surprised if chefs and restarauteurs coming in from elsewhere aren't frustrated by the quality of local restaurant staff (plenty of us diners often are) and the supply chain. The latter was in part the subject of a NY Times article that talked up the openings of both Table 8 and Evolution (along w/ La Goulue in Bal Harbor and Sardinia) where the chefs were griping about difficulties getting high-quality product. I think part of that may just be learning curve, as many of the locals are able to do a good job on this front and have made the effort to develop relationships with local suppliers.

            OysterHo, the place you're thinking of is Karu & Y, which I haven't been to but have not heard anything good about. I'd be amazed if it's long for this world either.

            1. re: Frodnesor

              Thank you for all the info, Frodnesor. :)

          2. lax2mia asks "....... is [PF Changs and Oceanaire] where Brickell's tastes are?"

            I'd rather not think about it like that (i.e., tastes). Instead, I see it more as a result of external factors contributing to overall restaurant sustainability.

            Looking at restaurants from an organizational standpoint, both of those restaurants have corporate management and structure in place that can a) afford to run on a smaller profit margin, b) provide immediate help with staffing issues such as recruitment, high turnover and absenteeism (especially in important positions such as GM or Exec. Chef), and c) marketing.

            In other words, smaller, chef-owned restaurants must achieve sustainability by running on HIGHER profit margins despite the fact that when they lose employees (especially managers and chefs) they do not have the human resources available to adequately recruit and select qualified applicants. Further, its highly unlikely that they can bring in a new manager with requisite experience. However, in the case of PF Changs, a manager of a store in Atlanta can come down tomorrow and fairly adequately adapt to the Miami's store situation. Thus, its not such a problem for corporate restaurants. Further, their ability to replace all positions almost immediately, advertise and recruit on a national level (e.g., asking an applicant in texas if they want to work in miami for a while?), as well as the incentive to write off individual store losses at the corporate tax-level give these types of restaurant a distinct advantage.

            Albeit the "tastes" of the people of Brickell may play a part in the success and failure of corporate/chef-owned restuarants, I think that there are mitigating factors (that are especially contingent to miami) that will continue to result in the proliferation of corporate eateries.

            Yes, I know that NYC and LA and Chicago have a thriving chef-owned restaurant scene. However, this is Miami....

            4 Replies
            1. re: Lost Highway

              Everyone is so consumed with celebrity chef here that when it comes down to things, most of them fail here because they think they can get by on their celebrity name alone. It's a shame, but I wish we'd see a movement back to the more mom and pop restaurants, the ones with true passion and not a celebrity clientele. That said, I agree COMPLETELY with HabaneroJane's assessment of the new Benihanas. Terrible!

              1. re: LesleyEats

                There have certainly been some recent local success stories - Michael's Schwartz's new place (Michael's Genuine) is constantly packed, Michelle Bernstein's Michy's is also thriving. Michy's has gotten tons of national press, but Michael's seems to be doing it mostly on word of mouth. Douglas Rodriguez returned from NY to open OLA, which I hope has finally found a home in Sanctuary. Talula (Andrea Curto & hubby Frank Randazzo) is still strong, as is Timo (Tim Andriola), Mark's (Mark Militello). Dewey LoSasso at North 110 is still turning out good food.

                Regretfully, Johnny Vincenz's return to South Beach (Johnny V @ the Astor) has been disappointing compared to my memories of his last place in SoBe a few years ago. There have also been a couple losses - Norman's, Pacific Time (but I would expect both Norman Van Aken and Jonathan Eismann to be resurfacing soon - Norman in Key Wst, and Eismann supposedly in the Design District).

                I actually think these are overall very good times for locally based chefs and restarauteurs.

                By the way, as I was just checking to make sure Robin Haas was still at Chispa, his name is no longer on the website. Anyone heard anything?

                1. re: Frodnesor

                  Robin Haas left Chispa for the Caribbean and Johnny V, I just heard, has closed down.

              2. re: Lost Highway

                LH - I totally, wholeheartedly disagree with your argument, or at least parts. Everything you say here about chains and their lego-like ability to replace and recruit employees like parts can be said of any city with chains which means, basically, any city. The same can be said for retail chains vs. boutique shops or Mr. Goodwrench vs. the local mechanic. The only differentiator (sp?) is a populace that decides to spend their dollars at local places. There's no reason Miami should be any different (see places like Michael's, UVA 69, etc. which depend on a large local contingent to keep them going). Keeping with my argument, if you look at the Brickell neighborhood and considering its demographics, there have been more than a few higher end, local places that have closed while chain eateries have sprung up and thrived (at least from from seeing the lines at PF Changs on a Friday night). It's not only because they can take losses or swap employees, it's because they genuinely do well. As for local places, it doesn't seem like that populace cares much.

              3. Sigh. Duo was our favorite...

                3 Replies
                1. re: johnloomis

                  Duo will be missed. There is no evidence that they weren't doing well (same with all the other places 'rumored' here to be closing), quite the contrary. They were usually busy when I stopped or passed by. But Duo was a mom and pop operation. Landlords chase out those type of places and replace them with $30,000/mo-paying chains. The fact that places like Oceanaire or PF Chang's survive is because they don't need to make as much money at every single location for the first five years, if not more. Does anyone think that Ghirardelli's is turning a profit on Lincoln, paying $40K/mo.? Pacific Time didn't close because business was off, but because rents are skyrocketing. I would imagine the same thing happened to Duo. And if you eat at chains, and support them (which I don't have a problem with) with your dollars, you can't complain when they drive out our little beloved places.

                  1. re: Miami Danny

                    MD/L2M>

                    I read recently that Grimpa steakhouse from Brazil is opening in the plaza where PF Chang's enjoys such success (Mary Brickell), that Bonefish Grill is opening on Ponce, and Prime Blue Grill (spin off of Smith & Wollensky) will also grill beef on Brickell.

                    Seems that area can support Morton's, Capital Grill, Porcao... and now 2 more!

                    Area tastes run mostly with the herd - medium rare!

                    AG

                    1. re: advisor_Girl

                      Grimpa is open!

                2. did you see what they owed though? I remember the bartender telling me that rent was 20k a month...and that was cheap! Being a smaller facility focusing on the better things...I can see how they couldn’t stay afloat....Chang’s has rent free space for the next year due to all the delays with Mary Brickell Village opening 4 years late....most of the business in the MBV have similar deals for the now. Did Brickell ever have taste aside from rampant speculation that 'logically' brought prices levels to 600 psf? All these condos....filled with renters....because its cheaper to stay in Brickell (in the long run) than to rent up in Miami Shores....and you expect these folks to prop up the establishment further?

                  1. I think Duo closed becasue it couldn't compete with Novicento on the same block. My office is across the street and I always saw Novicento busy at lunchtime and in the evening but can't say the same for Duo...sad but I think it teaches us to go to these restaurants to keep them in business and tell our friends when we find a gem!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: lorilaw

                      also very true lori...

                    2. Miami Herald has a story in today's paper that tries to get a fix on why so many spots like Duo are closing their doors:
                      http://www.miamiherald.com/460/story/...

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: johnloomis

                        Along these lines, restaurant critic Tom Sietesema of the Washington Post thinks these are the top restaurant cities: New York first, followed by San Francisco, Chicago, DC and then either Seattle or Los Angeless. As for Miami, "That's one of the most fickle restaurant scenes in the country."
                        How others see us might be us!

                        1. re: johnloomis

                          IMHO that is just a sad article...so sad. And the owner of Prime 112, et al, with the whole "people come here to be entertained" about sums up the food scene in Miami Beach. He feeds off of it...I have always disliked the guy. But anyway, that's a different thread. Hope our favorites survive ;-)

                        2. .