Alvaro Perez Miranda, International Restaurateur, Vagabond Restaurant and Bar
Alvaro Perez Miranda is a Venezuelan-born entrepreneur who attended Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles before starting a career in the hospitality industry in Los Angeles and Tokyo, Japan. After opening Il Forno in Tokyo along with Joseph Suceveanu and Royal Host in 1989 (which would later become the second largest food and beverage company in Japan), Alvaro would come to launch 33 restaurants in Tokyo by 2001, including Bruschetta Pix Cafe, Provence and Il Pinolo – the latter being the first restaurant to serve original Tuscan cuisine in Japan. In 2002, Perez Miranda opened Metromet, a Tokyo-based restaurant consulting and management firm and his ultra-posh restaurants soon became favorite haunts of Hollywood’s A-listers when visiting Japan, including Tom Cruise, Denzel Washington, Robert Downey, Jr. and Giorgio Armani.
Now, following a 20-year, 70-restaurant run in Japan, this industry visionary has come stateside where he’s been spearheading the soon-to-open Vagabond Restaurant and Bar as part of the newly restored Vagabond Hotel in Miami’s exploding MiMo District.
You’re a successful restaurateur that has opened restaurants all over the world; why Miami and why now?
After living abroad for 35 years I felt an urge to go back to my Latin roots. Miami is an ideal city because people from all around the world live here and/or travel here. I’m from Venezuela and there is such strong Latin culture and community here. It is the best place to take what I have learned from around the world. Miami feels like home.
Can you give us a few insights into what we should expect to see on the Vagabond Restaurant menu?
Chef Alex Chang’s dishes are globally inspired. We take a dish inspired from one culture and put a twist on it by adding ingredients that wouldn’t traditionally be used. The opening menu consists of steak tartare, Kanpachi ceviche, roasted octopus, smoked river trout salad, grilled leek panzanella and a cornmeal cake to name just a few.
Who is your biggest culinary influence?
My biggest culinary influence is my mother. I grew up in a house where my mother made incredible food, which inspired me to get into the restaurant industry. In addition I spent time in both Italy and Japan and was heavily influenced by both countries unique culinary scenes, so I bring those experiences into what I am doing now with Vagabond.
Apart from the restaurant, there will be a bar and art gallery at Vagabond; can you tell us how you see all three concepts coming together?
They are meant to be together, it’s simply perfect … a glass of wine, a good meal and being surrounded by beautiful art. It truly creates a unique experience for those dining with us.
Describe the décor we will see as part of the renovations.
We started off with a blank canvas and filled the restaurant with beautiful art from all over the world, and we also incorporated a vertical wall garden. The décor brings the experience full circle, both food and art inspired from around the world.
Where do you see Miami’s MiMo District in the next five years?
MiMo is an up-and-coming area, and the demographic is vastly changing. There are new neighbors and restaurants. Considering that Avra Jain has acquired over 20 properties surrounding the Vagabond I think that we will see a major surge in the neighborhood. Going west from the hotel there is an artist village and I’m excited to see what else is to come.
What’s been your favorite thing about the process of opening up a restaurant in Miami?
Everything. From the creative process, to researching, planning, recruiting, training and watching the concepts come to life.
When you’re in Miami, what’s your go-to restaurant?
I love visiting local restaurants in the Miami area and discovering new spots. I particularly enjoy the food and atmosphere at Mina’s.
How would you describe Miami’s “Contemporary Vagabond”?
The Contemporary Vagabond is a global person, someone who travels, knows about food and wine, loves art, and is constantly moving. That’s what our concept is all about!
Mitch & Mel