Keep New Times Free
David Grutman’s long-awaited project at the historic Firestone Garage on 16th Street and Alton Road in Miami Beach is nearly ready for its close-up.
The space will open in March, with three different concepts, including one by one of Miami’s best-loved pastry chefs, under its roof.
Winker’s Diner, Sushi Fly Chicken, and Toothfairy will all be housed beneath the giant Firestone sign that has welcomed motorists to Miami Beach since the 1930s.
The Firestone was a working garage and tire center until as recently as 2015. The 11,849-square-foot building and surrounding land parcel were purchased in early January 2016 by ARRP Miami IV LLC, an affiliate of Miami-based developer Crescent Heights, for $10 million.
David Grutman’s Groot Hospitality have been working on plans for the iconic structure for quite some time. The restaurateur and nightclub owner says he was drawn to the space. “As a Miami Beach guy, I’ve passed this building every day for years. The architecture of the building is beautiful, and I saw it as a diamond in the rough.”
The site had been slated to house retail stores and a coffee shop, but Grutman had another vision for the property. “I said I wanted to curate the entire building.”
Grutman and his team sent New York-based design firm ICrave to the proverbial drawing board.
Winker’s Diner at Firestone Garage.
Rendering courtesy of Groot Hospitality/Carma Connected
At Winker’s Diner, the American classic receives a whimsical facelift. The 240-seat diner, decorated in teal-colored Pullman-style booths and stainless steel-rimmed wood tabletops, will replace the jukebox of yesteryear with a more Grutman-appropriate DJ booth.
“What other diner has a DJ booth?” says Grutman, explaining that the decision was less to provide a nightclub vibe and more to make sure the music matched the ambiance. “I want everything to be perfect, and I don’t want to leave the music programming to some streaming service,” he explains. “I want to have someone there to set the tone.” The restaurant will offer American comfort food: sandwiches, soups, all-day breakfast, milkshakes, and floats.
Sushi Fly Chicken (SFC) will combine Grutman’s two favorite foods — sushi and fried chicken — into a single concept. The menu will include nigiri, maki, a robata menu, and an omakase experience. In addition, SFC will turn out Korean-style fried chicken, handmade dumplings, fried rice, and more. Curious guests can seek out an unassuming stainless-steel door that reveals a back-room lounge that will offer Japanese whisky, sake, and cocktails. The focal point of the space is a gallery wall that will host a rotating collection of commissioned art. Local DJs will spin ’90s hip hop to round out the experience. Chef Tony Mai will serve as Groot Hospitality’s corporate sushi chef and SFC’s executive sushi chef, with Ryan Lithgow taking on the role of chef de cuisine.
Toothfairy will offer desserts with a nostalgic flair by pastry chef/partner Dallas Wynne. Grutman says Wynne will serve up favorite items with a “twist”: Think matcha Twinkies and soft-serve ice cream festooned with fairy dust.
Groot Hospitality’s executive corporate chef Roel Alcudia will head up the operations, with chef Jeff Maxfield serving as executive chef at the three venues. Most recently, Maxwell served as corporate chef at Kilgore Culinary.
Firestone Garage’s three concepts will join Groot Hospitality’s ever-growing portfolio: nightclubs LIV and Story; restaurants Komodo, OTL, Planta, Swan, and Papi Steak; and the soon-to-open Goodtime Hotel on Washington Avenue in South Beach, which will house the restaurant Strawberry Moon.
Keep Miami New Times Free… Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who’ve won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism’s existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our “I Support” membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.