The Spice of Life

Miami's Community Newspapers

With the arrival of the midsummer heat and humidity of August, we once again have the unique opportunity to satisfy our palates and bone up on our eating skills. Miami Spice is officially here and for the next two months, the “oyster is our world!”

For more than a decade, I have considered Miami Spice the best part of summer in Miami. Sure, the beaches are filled with bathing beauties from around the globe and the bay water is at its deepest azure. But nothing gets me more excited than a bevy of bistros putting out their finest fare in a three-course, prix fixe menu, designed just for our tummies!

If you had a chance to see the inaugural issue of Let’s Eat magazine, our newest glossy publication of the Chamber, then you know we are bullish on our restaurant community. With more than 150 eateries dotting the landscape of The City Beautiful, there is truly something for every taste, budget and scene. From Zagatrated restaurants to that hidden hole in the wall, each has its own unique place in our community and a soft spot in our grumbling stomachs.

When I came to the Chamber a decade ago, we had less than 20 member restaurants involved in our activities. Today, that number eclipses 70 and is a strong indicator that our restaurant community wants to be involved and engaged, while getting the word out to customers and potential diners. As part of our mission driven focus, we are here to help and most importantly, position Coral Gables as a dining destination and foodie community. The critical mass is here, along with the critical acclaim to make this happen.

In July, we received word that livability. com (the entity that once proclaimed us a silver medalist in the Top Small Town in the World rankings) named us the No. 1 foodie city in America. How about that, folks? Sure, we love to brag and spread the good news, but resting on our laurels is not our style. More importantly, it places a large target on our back and, well, we need to keep growing and reaching and stretching ourselves to the gastronomic limit.

With our Chamber theme for the upcoming year, “At Your Service,” there really is no better time to embrace this No. 1 title and make it our own, for we all know that service often trumps what ends up on the plate. We want good customer service and when we receive it, we know it. Read any review on Yelp and reviewers can be brutal when it comes to bad service. This is our great differentiator and our competitive advantage in the Gables. We know how to make your experience world-class and it will be our singular focus in the upcoming year…whether you are dining out, shopping till you drop or looking for information.

Our Chamber will continue to challenge our service industry to strive for excellence, something we learned this year from the wisdom of our chair of the board, Linda Knudsen. She taught us the importance of working each day to make the ordinary, extraordinary. Under her leadership, along with the support of her service-focused team at Baptist Health South Florida, we believe now is the perfect opportunity for us to continue to do so and the right time to make it happen.

Now, let’s eat!

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