Miami's Culinary Moguls

Kyle Johnson

Get to know the city's homegrown, gourmet-minded empire builders—from Myles Chefetz to John Kunkel.

Myles Chefetz, one of Miami’s major kingpins, presides over his own South of Fifth Street restaurant kingdom, of which Prime 112 (112 Ocean Dr.; 305-532-8112) is the main attraction. In fact, the steakhouse is consistently ranked as one of the 20 highest-grossing independent restaurants in America (it did $23 million in revenue last year). Opened in 2004, it remains a phenomenon—it’s still hard to get a reservation. Chefetz’s other spots include Prime Italian (101 Ocean Dr.; 305-695-8484), Prime Fish (100 Collins Ave.; 305-532-4550) and Big Pink diner (157 Collins Ave.; 305-532-4700).

What Chefetz is to South of Fifth, the so-called “Pubbelly Boys”—partners­ Ser­gio Navarro, José Mendín and Andreas Schreiner—are to Sunset Har­bour, where they have opened a range of restaurants within a two-block radius. Four years ago there was nothing in the area but a tow-truck company and small businesses. Then the trio debuted Pubbelly (1418 20th St.; 305-532-7555), whose pork belly drew diners from all corners of the city. Their landlord offered up two spaces next door, where they opened Pubbelly Sushi (1424 20th St.; 305-531-9282) and later PB Steak (which closed in August due to, ironically, rising rents). Barceloneta (1400 20th St.; 305-538-9299) was their next hit, followed by L’echon Brasserie (6261 Collins Ave.; 786-483-1611) farther north.

Another prolific figure is John Kunkel (pictured), whose company, 50 Eggs, has had big success with Yardbird Southern Table & Bar (1600 Lenox Ave.; 305-538-5220), known for its fried chicken. Also in his portfolio: Swine Southern Table & Bar (2415 Ponce de Leon Blvd.; 786-360-6433) and Khong River House (1661 Meridian Ave.; 305-763-8147; khongriver.com).

Michelle Bernstein, who once ruled with a host of restaurants, is now focusing on the launch of the new 267-seat Seagrape (4041 Collins Ave.; 877-793-8519) at the forthcoming Thompson Miami Beach (thompsonhotels.com).

Not all local chefs and restaurateurs are intent on becoming trademarks, though: Anastasia Koutsioukis and Ahmet Erkaya run the Design District’s Mandolin Aegean Bistro (4312 Second Ave.; 305-749-9140), arguably the most authentic locally helmed restaurant in town. Still, they’ve attracted global attention: They are consulting on the culinary program at the Soho House Istanbul, set to open this winter.