Billboard Live poised for June 4 opening in South Beach
By John P. Hernandez
Billboard Live is nearly ready to enter the South Beach market.
The 40,000-square-foot, four-level complex at the end of Ocean Drive on 15th Street will sport four entertainment and dining spaces - the street-level Breez restaurant, a second-level Zuccha lounge, a third-level Parallel restaurant and a fourth-level Board Room, which was designed as a private, members-only enclave.
Breez, a casually upscale seafood and sushi bar, is to open June 4.
"We want our customers to get more than they pay for while being in an upscale environment and paying a fair cost," said Ephraim Kadish, executive chef. "We want them to look at Breez as a reasonable place to visit two or three times a week."
Mr. Kadish, former executive chef of the China Grill chain as well as its flagship restaurant in New York City, said he oversees all culinary affairs for Billboard Live. Mr. Kadish said seafood and sushi entrees would range from $20-$25 a person, although the final menu has not been decided.
"Breez will feature one of the most comprehensive menus of raw and cooked seafood in the city," said Christian Dickens, Billboard Live vice president of operations. "The menu will feature everything from 'roll your own sushi' to specially stuffed and folded pressed sushi to caviar."
The second level Zuccha Lounge, which Mr. Dickens said is an intimately plush lounge offering panoramic views of Ocean Drive, is to feature a dance club with a stage, television, radio and Internet production center as well as a banquet area for private parties.
Dominating the third level of the complex is the Parallel Restaurant and its outdoor terrace with views of the beach and Ocean Drive.
"Parallel's cuisine will be a mix of African, Indonesian and Latin American combined into one," Mr. Kadish said. "The prices will be a little more pricier than Breez because the food will be more complex to make."
A date for the rest of the complex's opening has not been set yet, but Mr. Dickens said it would be ready in time for the summer.
"We plan to first have a soft opening where we'll be open for a couple of weeks or so," Mr. Dickens said. "Then, we will have our grand opening party. We are thinking of making it a week-long event."
The Billboard Music Group, the music and entertainment giant known best for publishing the weekly Billboard magazine and its industry standard music sales charts, owns the Miami Beach complex.
The local Billboard Live is the company's second restaurant and nightclub venture. The first opened in 1996 in Los Angeles as a concert and late-night dance venue. The group had big plans for it and considered additional sites in New York, Las Vegas and other cities.
The idea, according to a history of the venue posted on the Internet, was that patrons in one city watching one group perform would be able to hook up to a performing act booked in another city. But, Billboard executives report, that idea failed to inspire customers because a capacity limited to 400 people hampered the type of bookings Billboard Live could land, resulting in less-than mainstream and even unpopular acts performing.
The new formula, Mr. Kadish said, has to do with keeping customers happy.
"If you want to be successful," he said, "you have to start with making sure that every customer who walks through the door leaves happily and wanting to return. The best type of press is word of mouth and if people leave not wanting to return, we have lost."