Developer Plans Entertainment Venue Near Downtown Miami
By Tom Harlan
A Brazilian developer plans to open a restaurant and entertainment venue next fall in Miami’s emerging entertainment district.
Cesar Sotomayor, a Brazil native and vice president of Arrso Restaurant Co., began construction in September on Karu@Y, a 19,000-square-foot facility at 71 NE 14th St. that is to include a restaurant, a lounge and a banquet room.
Karu, the restaurant, is to accommodate 126 guests with three bars and a dining room. Y, a lounge with a VIP room, is to hold about 300 guests.
The restaurant and lounge are to connect to a 9,000-square-foot banquet room that can hold 1,000 people and is to be used to host private parties, fashion shows, weddings and art galleries. In addition, the room may also serve as a location for production companies to shoot music videos, films and TV programs.
One businessman who has worked in downtown Miami for decades said the idea may be premature. Hank Rodstein, president and owner of HR mortgage, said the planned restaurant may struggle until the Performing Arts Center is built.
Mr. Rodstein said the area, which lacks parking and safety measures, should change into an upscale area like the area of South Beach near Nikki’s Beach Club did in the ’80s once the center opens. But the center has continuously been delayed and will probably open in 2006, he said.
Until then, potential customers are going to go to Capital Grill, Bongos or upscale establishments on South Beach that are developed and have parking, he said.
"In three years, the area is going to be dynamite, but not today," he said.
Mr. Sotomayor, who has worked at restaurants in Madrid and South America and managed properties for a Long Island developer, said he developed the idea for Karu@Y from his passion for the South American aboriginal culture. "Karu" means "eating" in a Brazilian aboriginal language, he said.
Gerdy Rodriguez, a Cuban chef reared in Miami who has worked at several local restaurants, is to prepare the food. Mr. Rodriguez is to serve haute cuisine, which is popular in Spain.
The facility, which is being designed by Pepe Calderin of Levine Calderin and Associates, is to have a water theme because "Y" means "water" in the aboriginal language, Mr. Sotomayor said.
Visitors are to enter the facility by crossing a bridge over a reflecting pool surrounded by thick glass walls and water is to fall from a glass roof above a bar into a reflecting pool in an outside patio.
In addition, Montreal artist Richard Boprae is creating artwork that is to resemble flowing raindrops to cover an entire wall.
Arrso has a marketing team working to attract customers from local hotels and high-end condos under development on Biscayne Boulevard, Mr. Sotomayor said.
Mr. Sotomayor said the company will work with representatives of the Ice Palace film and production facility, the Performing Arts Center and other groups and businesses to attract events to the club.
Arrso originally planned to open a restaurant at the site to serve customers moving into the downtown area, he said. But after looking at the size of the site, company officials decided to cater to dinner and nightclub crowds.
"We’re creating an icon," Mr. Sotomayor said. He said Arrso wants the venue to be known worldwide for entertainment – "a destination that can embrace all different types of people."