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Taste of Brickell: Hey, Guys, Why So Many Chains?

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The second annual Taste of Brickell festival is this weekend. The event -- which takes place this Saturday and Sunday, March 24 and 25, from noon to 10 p.m. -- turns 1201 Brickell Bay Dr. into a large party area featuring food, drinks, and a kiddie zone complete with petting zoo. Admission ranges from $5 (food and drinks to be purchased separately) to a $100 VIP ticket, which includes access to a special tent with wine, spirits, and food.

The fest is a great idea. But while checking out the list of participating restaurants, I couldn't help but notice a large portion of participating establishments are either part of a big chain or are owned by a large restaurant company -- usually with corporate headquarters outside Florida.

It's really not the fault of the Taste of Brickell organizers, who should be lauded for curating a list of restaurants solely in the neighborhood. It's that the area itself seems to be a magnet for chains.

Yes, there are some wonderful little restaurants in the Brickell area. Perricone's Marketplace & Café, Baru Urbano, and Dolores But You Can Call Me Lolita quickly come to mind. There are also some beautiful fine-dining establishments, such as Azul and Edge Steak & Bar. And, of course, there's Tobacco Road, the poster child for independently run establishments.

But there's also an inordinate amount of chains. You have to look only at Mary Brickell Village's directory to find P.F. Chang's, Rosa Mexicano, Blue Martini, the Oceanaire Seafood Room, and Fadó Irish Pub.  Even restaurants that many people think are local are part of a much larger picture. Take, for example, Balans. It poses as a neighborhood café, but its corporate office is in London (home to ten other Balans locations, by the way).

Take a stroll down Brickell and you'll be able to dine at the Capital Grille, Morton's, Truluck's, and Gordon Biersch.

One can argue that the cost of real estate has made it tough for independent restaurants to pay the rents that Brickell commands and that only large chains can afford to thrive there. But that argument doesn't really hold water when you consider there are so many fine independently run restaurants turning out great food in Miami Beach and midtown.

But there is hope for the area. Altamare chef/partner Simon Stojanovic is working on a tapas-influenced restaurant in the neighborhood, and favorite local hangout Burger & Beer Joint opened a Brickell outpost. We're hoping other local Miami chefs follow that lead.

Though there's nothing wrong with larger chains, we should all strive to support our growing (and fantastic) independent and local restaurant scene.

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Location Info

Dolores, But You Can Call Me Lolita

1000 S. Miami Ave., Miami, FL

Category: Restaurant

Perricone's Marketplace & Cafe

15 SE 10th St., Miami, FL

Category: Restaurant

Azul Restaurant

500 Brickell Key Dr., Miami, FL

Category: Restaurant

Edge Steak & Bar

1435 Brickell Ave., Miami, FL

Category: Restaurant

Balans Restaurant

901 S. Miami Ave., Miami, FL

Category: Restaurant

Burger & Beer Joint

900 S. Miami Ave., Miami, FL

Category: Music

Tobacco Road - CLOSED

626 S. Miami Ave., Miami, FL

Category: Music


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3 comments
Yak
Yak

I would rather not see the chain restaurants at this event. Not really representitive of Brickell in any substantive way.

Ed
Ed

You do realize it's the Taste of "Brickell".  If it took this event for you to realize that Brickell is overrun by chains you must not get out of the New Times building very often.

As for people thinking that Balans is local then they're pretty ignorant. Balans makes it pretty blatant that they have locations in London.

Laine Doss
Laine Doss

 Ed:

Of course I knew that Brickell was overrun with chains. Just making an observation that this neighborhood is particularly full of them.  And many people do not know that Balans is a UK chain -- just as many people don't know that Fado is a chain. In fact, on the Miami Herald website, Balans claims its a great neighborhood restaurant.  http://events.miamiherald.com/...

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