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Stretching the bar

A redesign opens up a new daypart at a bar in one of Miami’s top shopping districts.

The Miami Design District that is home to Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink morphed from a rundown neighborhood into a bustling destination for art, luxury shopping and dining in the eight years since the bar-restaurant opened in 2007. Chef-owner Michael Schwartz was planning to update his bar, but looking around, he realized it needed more than a facelift. bar stretch main

“People holding Hermès bags were walking up to our door at 4 p.m. wanting to come in, and we weren’t open,” says Schwartz. So he decided to add service—at the bar only—between 3 and 5:30 p.m. Accommodating the new daypart meant expanding the bar area, which he did by annexing an underused private-dining room. A raw bar and prep station were added, and new stools and tables doubled the bar seating from 11 to 25. To complete the $200,000 renovations in two weeks and minimize the impact on the business, crews worked around-the-clock.

Since it launched three months ago, “afternoon service” has been packed, Schwartz says. “It’s changed the whole dynamic of the restaurant,” he says. “We’re capturing revenues we never had before and have seen a 25 percent increase in sales.” Aside from the raw-bar items (including crudos, ceviches and shellfish platters), the new bar menu offers wood-fired pizzas, salads, snacks (including crispy pig ears and bite-size falafel) and two $10 desserts—plus cocktails, craft beer and wine.

“I had to hire a few more people,” says Schwartz. “But the swing shift between lunch and dinner covers most of the service.”

Concept: Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink
Location: Miami
Footprint: 3,500 square feet
Number of seats: 160 (25 bar plus 120 dining room and 15 outside)
Key features: Raw bar; mahogany bar and stools; fish theme, gold-coin mosaics commissioned to a local artist; expanded bar menu

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