‘Iconic’ riverfront building set for restaurants
Written by John Charles Robbins on November 5, 2014
Not one but two new restaurants are coming to the banks of the Miami River.
SUSHISAMBA and Duck & Waffle aim to open in a planned multi-level commercial building proposed for the former East Coast Fisheries site.
The Miami River Commission on Monday unanimously approved plans for the pair of eateries, proposed by developers The Melo Group and considered Phase II of Flagler on the River.
The developer has a commitment with one tenant that plans to build-out the interior of the new structure after Melo constructs the exterior of the four-story building, according to Arturo Griego of Itec Design, principal architect of Phase II.
The site is directly on the river, across Northwest North River Drive from Melo’s brand new condo tower, the 32-story, 300-unit Flagler on the River. The tower has an address of 340 W Flagler St. The Phase II building has an address of 40 SW North River Drive.
The plan received good reviews Monday from river commission members, many of whom applauded the unique look of the proposed building.
From Itec Design, the building’s look is a play on lobster crates of varying size, and renderings show open areas on the ground floor affording see-through views of the river for motorists and pedestrians on Northwest North River Drive.
Mr. Griego said the new building will enhance the river and the public riverwalk. He said The Melo Group will be responsible for building and maintaining the riverwalk.
The developer might ask for a 1-foot waiver of the street-side setback for the new building, he added.
Commission member Javier Betancourt commended Mr. Griego on his design, saying it was instantly “iconic” and will be a draw to the site. Mr. Betancourt, deputy director of Miami’s Downtown Development Authority, said the project is consistent with plans to activate the streets for walking and encouraging use of public transit.
Mr. Betancourt mentioned the city’s project to improve Flagler Street from Biscayne Boulevard to the courthouse. He said there have been recent talks about a second phase to make improvements on Flagler from the courthouse to the river.
“This would tie into it very well,” Mr. Betancourt said of the restaurants. He suggested city officials sit down with The Melo Group to talk about that possibility.
Dr. Ernie Martin, chairman of the commission’s Greenways Subcommittee, said he was impressed by the quality of the architectural design. “He captures the river… It’s a great concept,” he said.
“It’s a beautiful building,” said commission member Sandy Batchelor. “It will bring a lot of good business downtown.” She said her only concern was to make certain the unique structure be built to withstand hurricane winds.
An Oct. 24 report from Dr. Martin and Urban Infill Subcommittee Chairman Jim Murley recommended the commission find the low-density Phase II self-standing riverfront restaurant – featuring the public riverwalk – consistent with Miami 21, the City Charter, the Miami River Greenway Action Plan and the Miami River Corridor Urban Infill Plan.
The developer hopes to break ground on the Phase II building in 6 to 8 months, said Mr. Griego.
SUSHISAMBA restaurants offer a blend of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine, music and design.
SUSHISAMBA restaurants are operated by Samba Brands Management (SBM), which was founded by Shimon Bokovza, Matthew Johnson and Danielle Billera in 2012. Having originally established a restaurant management company in 2000, the trio launched SBM to oversee their growing brands, according to the company’s website.
In addition to the SUSHISAMBA locations, SBM oversees SUGARCANE raw bar grill in Miami and Duck & Waffle in London’s Heron Tower.
Duck & Waffle made its debut in the summer of 2012 in London, with an emphasis on local, rustic, seasonal and sustainable British ingredients. Duck & Waffle is open 24/7, offering breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and late-night menus.