Mina's Mediterraneo Now Open on Upper Eastside
Yasmine Kobt's deep brown eyes have a hard time hiding her real feelings about her restaurant, Mina's Mediterraneo. The large, airy space was a dry-cleaning facility decades ago, but when Kobt recently purchased the property, it was a skeleton of a building.
In a project that took more than a year, Kobt's construction team renovated the space into a comfortable, open dining room, with a bar and garden patio.
Kobt explains that opening a restaurant was unfamiliar to her. But as she looks around and gestures toward large windows that let in natural light, her eyes scream, I'm so proud of my place!
With help from her parents, who own Mediterraneo in Nassau Bay near Houston, Kobt decided a couple of years ago that bidding on a place was the smartest thing to do. "I felt like the opportunity was right to capitalize on real estate," she says. So she bought the rundown building -- with a sad excuse for a roof, no plumbing, no windows, and one nasty bathroom.
Today, the patio and wraparound terrace can accommodate double the interior capacity. Behind and next to the building is an enormous parking lot, and just beyond it sits Kobt's herb garden. Plus, there's a brand-new bathroom.
She consulted with Emilio Estefan, whom she'd met years ago while working as a tour manager for big-name acts such as Beyoncé, Coldplay, and Britney Spears. Estefan offered her one of his properties in South Beach -- but she was not interested in the transient clientele on the Beach. She wanted something with a better neighborhood vibe.
That's exactly what Mina's feels like -- a warehouse-style neighborhood restaurant that caters to couples as much as it attracts large families and business folks grabbing a bite on their break. The space is decorated with art-deco-era tourism posters of cities in the Mediterranean.