Rolando Aedo Talks Miami Spice: "The More People Celebrating Food in Miami, the Better"

Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau
Rolando Aedo give us the scoop on Spice.
Miami Spice, the two-month promotion that offers value-priced meals at 174 Miami-area restaurants, is in full swing.

Sponsored by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, the promotion continues throughout August and September and offers diners a three-course lunch for $23 and dinner for $39 at both independent restaurants and upscale dining establishments.

But how do restaurants participate in Spice, and what's the ultimate goal of the program? We spoke with Rolando Aedo, senior vice president of marketing and tourism at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, for an inside look at Miami Spice.

See also: The Great of Miami Spice 2014, Part Two

New Times: This year, the number of participating restaurants dropped from more than 200 last year to 174. What's the reason for that and for going back to the one-tier pricing system?
Rolando Aedo: If you go back in time to year one, Miami Spice started out with about 40 restaurants, and that was a great year-one effort. We're so glad the number of restaurants has grown, but we also wanted to be very aware of how we started this program. From the beginning, Miami Spice was about celebrating the best of what Miami has to offer. In our zeal to make it as inclusive as possible, we included a great number of restaurants.

We added the second tier to allow for different restaurants, because we base an establishment's inclusion on analyzing the menu and the average check price. But frankly, we wanted to return to making it about quality over quantity. We wanted restaurants that offered value to the consumer, so we raised the price bar but lowered the number of restaurants. The quality is better than ever, and we have 45 new restaurants. Some dropped off; a lot cycled in.

How much revenue was generated from last year's Miami Spice? How many meals were served?
Miami Spice restaurants track their own sale; we do know, however, that approximately 150,000 Miami Spice dinners were served August and September last year.

How exactly does a restaurant get to participate in Miami Spice? Are there guidelines or criteria? Do they pay a fee? Submit menus?
Part of the process does include having the restaurants submit their menus to our team for evaluation. Miami Spice restaurants must also be active members of the Greater Miami CVB in order to be part of the program. We also analyze the proposed Spice menus. We look for a regular per-check average of about $50.

Some restaurants get more creative than others with Miami Spice, so this is more an art than a science, but that dollar amount, in essence, qualifies you. There is also a participation fee that's 100 percent reinvested into the market. It's varied from $700 to $900, and there are discounts because we do want to make it easy for individual restaurants to participate. The Bureau itself puts significant funding into the pot. We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote Miami Spice.

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