Meet me at the Corner of Cooper Avenue and South Street

Posted by Maryanne Salvat On October - 22 - 2012

By:  Dr. Mary Jo Almeida-Shore 

Cooper Avenue- Your one-stop Shop for fabulous. 

Well after midnight just a few weeks ago, after delighting in a decadent meal of hamachi with truffles, mushroom risotto, perfectly seared steak and creative concoctions by the Bar Lab team, we partook in what’s sure to become a landmark moment on South Beach. Amir Ben-Zion, the mastermind behind mainstays, Bond Street, the Townhouse, Gigi and Bardot, and his business partner, Shai Ben-Ami (Domo Japones, Wok Town) gathered his staff, friends and family for a Champagne toast for the official unveiling of Cooper Avenue, restaurant/deli/lounge/bakery and marketplace– the most unique space in South Beach, which takes up an entire block, on the bottom floor of the critically acclaimed, New World Symphony building (location! location! location!) 

Cooper has already become THE go-to for everything from a delicious meal, to a cup of Stumptown coffee (best in town), to a pair of sunglasses for braving the bright sun after a “vampiraso” (all-nighter).  After an inspiring speech, Ben-Zion directed the staff and guests to tear down the butcher paper covering the floor-to-ceiling windows, which had kept Cooper Avenue under wraps for more than two years.  This symbolic and emotional moment:  standing around the enormous mound of brown paper in the center of the restaurant, brought to fruition the collaboration between the long-time friends and business partners and welcomed the advent of Miami’s new “one-stop-shop” for all things necessary and fabulous.  

Award-winning chef Wolfgang Birk helms Cooper’s restaurant, creating a diverse menu comprised of specialty items and fresh, seasonal ingredients at a reasonable price. The space is edgy, open and industrial, with exposed beams, aluminum chairs, and an open kitchen but also features a cozy alcove off of the main restaurant for private dining.  The sexy lounge, adorned with original artwork by Ben-Zion’s wife, Eurydice, offers Bar Lab’s signature drinks against a backdrop of video media and music ranging from live Electronica and Indie performances to old school hip hop.  

Ben-Zion’s vision for Cooper Avenue was to “create a market place for the Mac generation, a meeting place for travelers and locals alike looking for a welcoming spot to have a coffee and a croissant, read an international news paper, meet friends for dinner before the Symphony, or have a late night pizza after clubbing in South Beach. There is something for everyone.” 

Cooper Avenue is open almost 24 hours at the moment but is expected to be open 24/7 in time for Art Basel, which is a great thing, being that we are already addicted to this place.  Cooper Avenue is located at 1661 Pennsylvania Avenue,, 786.515.1850. 


Soulful Seduction at South Street 

Because just one major project isn’t enough to keep Ben-Zion busy, he’s recently teamed up with gorgeous socialite, Amaris Jones, to launch swank, sexy South Street, a neo soul restaurant and bar in the posh former Sra. Martinez space, the original home of the Buena Vista Post Office, built in the 1920’s, in the Design District. 

At the heart of this soulful speakeasy is Amaris Jones, whose vision and recipes for South Street come straight from her mother’s kitchen, where she spent a great deal of her childhood.  Wearing a calico apron over her designer clothes, Jones tells us, “I was in the kitchen since I was eight years old.  I learned from my mom and ‘auntie’ but have added my own twist to their classic dishes.  I want my guests to feel as though they are at home for Sunday Supper.”  Named for a popular street in Jones’ native Philly, South Street has that air of mystery and hipness you’d expect to find in a dark cozy spot in Charleston with that clandestine feel of a late night New Orleans joint- complete with music played in the upper level loft lounge floods the entire restaurant including a “dash of Billie, a pinch of Badu and a side of Simone, to a main dish of Motown classics, blues, and hip-hop.” On any night, you can expect live music and impromptu performers on the house keys.

But the main event at South Street is the food.  Feed your soul with Lobster Mac and Cheese, Shrimp & White Corn Cheddar Grits and Mom’s Free-Range Fried Chicken- (best we’ve ever had)- dip it in spicy honey and enjoy  healthy collards (made with turkey bacon) and yummy yams.  This feast will cost you a little over $50 bucks and there’s enough for two.  Of course, we don’t recommend stopping there- there are lots more comfort foods and desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth’s soul and the cocktail menu, also by Bar Lab is sensational-so head to the cozy upstairs lounge and continue the tête-à-tête over a Broad Street, Love Jones, Bee’s Knees or Billy Dee.  You can’t go wrong with anything on the drink menu. Bottle service and an extensive wine and cognac selection are also available.

South Street comforts your ears, palate and soul with its contemporary twist on a down-home idea. The atmosphere is one-of-a-kind:  the space is cozy but not cramped and the eclectic, stylish, interesting, crowd adds to the already energetic Motown vibe, singing along and clapping to the music from the upstairs loft.  Feed your soul- the rest will follow. 

South Street is located at 4000 NE 2 Avenue,


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