“If cameraman Korey (@KoreyDavisPhotography) doesn’t shoot it, I won’t eat it.”  It’s common knowledge that Miami locals avoid South Beach as much as possible. Black locals especially avoid it because of how Black folk – locals and out-of-towners – have been treated during Memorial Day Weekend.  Actually f#@% that, how we’re treated every damn weekend.

Shoddy treatment notwithstanding, there are times when entertaining out of town guests, accompanying friends and family for a swim or to a function at the Fillmore with its splendid acts becomes a necessary trip.

Two common decisions facing beach-goers include where to park and what to eat.  I can help you with the latter – significant because most beach restaurants are overpriced and underwhelming. It has been my experience time and again that you’ll come out better grabbing a slice from one of the many pizza spots than going to a swanky yet disgusting joint like Prime 112, where you can easily spend $100 a person.  My hate for Prime 112 was softened slightly because each time I’ve gone; star gazing was a part of my experience. I’m not sure why, but celebrities love this place.

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Owner DJ inside his South Beach Miami Grill Restaurant

Fortunately, a new quick casual concept—Miami Grill, has opened its doors in the heart of South Beach on 1541 Washington Ave. directly across the street from DREAM NIGHTCLUB.

I’m thrilled to report that the former Miami Subs has died along with its pedestrian menu and terrible customer service.  Being called Ricky Williams by staff at my neighborhood Miami Subs aggravated me more than they realized, and I never went back.

Owner of the South Beach store, and executive partner with Miami Subs parent company, Miami Subs Capital Partners, is Mr.  Dieuveny “DJ” Louis – the only black member of the corporate partners’ executive team and the only black owner of a quick casual restaurant in South Beach. A serial entrepreneur, DJ also owns a coffee brand (https://www.instagram.com/papocoffee/) Papo, as well as his hallmark company TOAST VODKA (http://www.toastvodka.com/).

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DJ Owner of Papo Coffee Brand which is sold inside his Miami Grill on SOBE

At only 33, he is truly showing #blackmangenius.  Confident in the new Miami Grills, he assured me that I would have great service and an excellent culinary experience.  Well, let’s see…..

DJ was instrumental in the corporate rebranding of the fast food chain to a new and improved quick casual concept as seen with his South Beach store.  (Seems like they’re seriously addressing some of the complaints from dissatisfied customers like me.)

“It’s important that we offer a new and reimagined experience for our customers. Embracing the fast-casual concept, redesigning a more eclectic menu with healthy options, and improved customer service was essential to an improved customer experience,” he shared.

“The new Miami Grill currently offers beer and wine, with liquor hopefully coming online in the next few years.  We want to give you a little bit of Miami’s vibrancy in every Miami Grill visited,” DJ stated as he waved to incoming customers. As I’ve mentioned, I was not a Miami Subs fan, but because I am a fan of black entrepreneurs, I decided to give the brother a chance.

Admittedly skeptical, when I walked in and encountered what felt more like a cool sports bar or lounge feel with neon lights, LED televisions, wine and beer vending machines topped by amazing smells coming from the open kitchen, I began to relax a tad.

I was impressed with the manager and his team as they took orders, cooked food, all while keeping the place spotless, which is a major feat for South Beach casual restaurants that have a reputation for needing improvement in the cleanliness department. Instead of the standard dirty SOBE hole in the wall feel, it felt more like a Smash Burger or a swanky 5 Guys.

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My first order was the Boneless Chicken Bites (fried) with a side of seasoned fries and a large drink ($10.00).  They’re similar to the chicken strips at Denny’s, a restaurant I mostly hate; except for their saving grace chicken strips when I need to soak up my Hendricks on a late Saturday night.

The sauce, eight to choose from, made Miami Grill’s strips taste amazing.  The “South Beach” sauce became my favorite because of its tangy sweetness that I really enjoyed.

miami-subs-fried-chicken-bites-with-drink
Boneless Chicken Bites

Cameraman Korey ordered the gyro platter with fries and a large soda ($10.75).  Definitely worth it, the gyro meat is made from lamb and beef and was served on a grilled pita with lettuce, tomatoes, and tzatziki sauce.

The sandwich was well structured and easy to eat; cut into three individually wrapped pieces (I hate sloppy sandwiches that fall all over the place).  This dish is perfect if you’re on the beach and need something quick and healthy. You can also order the gyro with chicken, lowering the calorie count to 500 calories for those of us trying to get our bodies back.  While Korey snapped shots of DJ, I enjoyed a third of his gyro.

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Gyro Platter

We then ordered both the grilled and naked wings ($9.75).  Both were good, but I really preferred the naked wings.  The wing is a little smaller than your typical sports bar, but the taste made up for it; packing an amazing flavor that honestly didn’t need any dipping sauce. (I made a return visit a few days after my initial review, just to get the naked wings.)  The grilled chicken wings were good, but are much better when you dip them in one of the eight sauces.

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Grilled Wings

Following the wings, the Philly Cheesesteak with seasoned fries was calling my name. I ordered the Original Philly Cheesesteak ($7.99), sautéed with grilled onions and covered with melted Swiss cheese served on a multigrain bun.

The new Miami Grill menu offers healthy options for just about everything including grilled fish or hormone-free chicken, salads and fresh-baked multigrain bread, in addition to classic favorites such as burgers. The changes to the layout and menu seem to be paying off because locations that have undergone the renovations and menu revisions are experiencing increases in sales up to 50 percent in some areas.

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Philly Cheesesteak

Apparently, there are plans to expand nationally into different markets with the quick casual concept.  DJ explained that the numbers of stores have increased significantly with the changes he and his partner were able to assist in realizing.

No nasty fast food vibe from this revised concept, especially since you can sit and watch the cooks sauté, grill, fry, and prepare your meal right before your eyes. No microwaving bulls@#$ either. Brother DJ’s assurances regarding my culinary and service experience were spot on. I wasn’t disappointed at all with the new Miami Grill and will definitely be back.

Written by thehungryblackman

Starex Smith is an accomplished and experienced public administrator, fundraiser, foodie, and culinary business developer who has committed himself to maximizing the Black experience in the United States! He currently serves as Vice President of Strategy and Development for Black Tech Week with over twelve (12) years of experience in managing public/private partnerships, large scale events, and nonprofits. He has successfully raised over 20 million dollars in funding for various governmental entities, food companies, and individuals. Starex has assisted countless food industry businesses successfully obtain funding, taking mom and pop storefronts to scalable businesses. His success in working with restaurants sparked a passion for food and entrepreneurship which led to the launching of Sothern Bytes, a teaching platform food business dedicated to an ever evolving food industry with a focus on technology, culture and innovation. Having constantly run into stereotyping negatively affecting his dining and vacationing experiences, Starex decided to curate great destinations, restaurants, and discuss issues surrounding being a hungry Black man. Starex completed both his Bachelor’s and Master’s coursework in Public Administration at Florida International University where he served as president of the Black Student Union and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated, Lambda Tau Chapter

10 comments

  1. You make Miami subs sound good. Because I wrote that place off years ago. It was my spot as a teenager after football games we used to hang out in their parking lots. As my taste in food grew that place became a last resort, their chicken pita used to be amazing. I’m going to have to give them another shot and especially make that trip from Broward to South beach to support this one specifically

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    1. Hey Lisa! Thanks for the comment. I too hated Miami Subs. However, the new menu items are a lot better. The atmosphere is better as well. If it weren’t wouldn’t have wasted my time. It’s more quick casual than fast food.

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      1. I give you much much much respect brother you took a big and smart step with your business on South Beach that’s what we need a lot of black business i will support you and your business 100% me and my son are planning our own business as well I will keep you and your business in my prayers at all times I am wishing you all the best and more blessing for your business and much love!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is awesome Starex! I now have a reason to come to the beach again. I stopped going as much because of the treatment of black ppl, as you mentioned. But I definitely want to visit this guy’s spot…. Love your blog! It’s awesome! Thanks for the reporting! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yesss! Love articles like this! I live in South Florida and visit South Beach several times a year so I will definitely stop and grab a bite! Eloquently written and concise photographs. 5 stars just for that😊 Great job DJ. Such an amazing accomplishment at such a young age. May you continue to prosper!

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