Andy Travaglia Spreads Autism Awareness at Lee & Marie's Cakery and Bar Crudo in SoBe
Andrea "Andy" Travaglia, owner of Lee & Marie's Cakery (Best Bakery 2013) and raw food restaurant Bar Crudo, spreads autism awareness by employing autistic adults.
Photo by billwisserphoto.com Chef Reto Von Weissenfluh and Andy Travaglia.
"I developed the Lee & Marie's Cakery Co., a real estate company (Exclusive Miami Rentals), and Bar Crudo all with the mission to hire people with [autism]. I am using these companies as prototypes to educate and influence other businesses to hire people on the autism spectrum," the transplanted New Yorker says. She also wanted to offer South Pointe residents dining options beyond the usual tourist-driven eateries of South Beach.
Her years in New York helped shape her vision for South Pointe.
"I had the idea to start the bakery when I moved into the neighborhood and realized there was not a place to have fresh-baked goods and coffee within a 12-block radius. I grew up going to a neighborhood bakery in Greenwich Village on a daily basis with my family. It was the hot spot for everyone's daily routine and an integral part of our community. South of Fifth was slowly developing into a residential neighborhood but with few cafés and restaurants to hang out in. Most of the eating establishments were tourist-driven," Travaglia says. "I thought the bakery was a perfect venue for me to introduce my dream to hire people on the autism spectrum."
Short Order: Conceptually, Bar Crudo is completely divergent from Lee & Marie's Cakery. What inspired the concept?
Art and autism inspire Andy's latest endeavor, Bar Crudo.
Andrea Travaglia: We are located below a residential building, which limits us; we cannot have any stoves or vents. We serve ceviche, salads, carpaccio, tartare, crostini, raw shellfish, and sashimi along with foods prepared sous vide. These are our creative solutions to not having a stove. I became familiar with this type of cuisine while traveling around the world to coastal communities. When we hired chef Reto von Weissenfluh, he was asked to come up with a menu serving only raw food. Luckily, he was up for the challenge.
What's your story?
I was born in 1956 and raised in downtown Manhattan by parents who were artists and part of the abstract expressionist movement in NYC. I spent my childhood in many restaurants and bars with my parents and their friends, who were writers, artists, musicians, and dancers. I was exposed to a bohemian lifestyle where food, wine, and camaraderie prevailed. My parents loved to cook and entertain, so we had lots of people over for dinner. I have an extensive background in dance and some theater. I did not go to college but worked for a large advertising agency in NYC in qualitative marketing, got married in '82, and became a single mom in '91. In 2008, I moved to Miami and started the real estate business; then came L&M's and Bar Crudo.