Sushi Bichi Restaurant Approved for Ocean Terrace

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Sushi Bichi Restaurant Approved for Ocean Terrace:

Preservation Board also agrees to change in alcohol service hours

The Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board gave its approval this month for a new restaurant proposed for the ground floor of the St. Tropez Condominium building on Ocean Terrace and, at the same time, granted a variance request for extended hours of alcohol service for the outdoor bar. The application documents for Sushi Bichi name James Recio, restaurant consultant and former General Manager of the now-closed SushiSamba on Lincoln Road, and Moshi Moshi chef/owner Toshio Furihata as owners. They describe a “contemporary Asisan restaurant” that will occupy the primarily outdoor space on the corner of 74th Street and Ocean Terrace.

Because the space is attached to a residential building, the hours that alcohol service is permitted by City Code is 8 am to 8 pm. Akerman Miami Office Managing Partner Neisen Kasdin, representing Sushi Bichi, told the Preservation Board (HPB) those restricted hours have been one of the challenges for previous operators in the space. Sushi Bichi's owners asked for the hours for alcohol service be extended to midnight, Sunday through Thursday, and up to 1:00 am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Kasdin noted the recent focus on the activation of Ocean Terrace. “The most important thing to activate Ocean Terrace,” in addition to the upcoming streetscape project, “is to have restaurants and other places that attract clientele and generate… pedestrian activity.”

Without extended alcohol service, however, a restaurant cannot be viable, he said. Because of the large outdoor area and small indoor kitchen in the St. Tropez space, Kasdin said its only use is as a restaurant but limited alcohol hours would “render that space virtually unusable and likely vacant,” detracting from the building and Ocean Terrace.

The bar is under the building which will help buffer it from the residential units above, he noted. “The limitation on hours is based on the adjacency to residential. In this instance the only residence that is adjacent is the St Tropez Condominium” which provided a letter of support for the project and the extended alcohol service hours. 

Bill Vitale, President of the St. Tropez Board of Directors, said, “We’ve had a succession of what can kindly be said are modest mom and pop restaurants in that space,” the last of which was a sports bar with “noise and other issues so we are very sensitive to the issue of noise.” After meeting with Recio and learning more about the concept and the experience of the owners in operating restaurants, he said, the Board is comfortable with the extended hours.

“This is huge for us,” he told the Preservation Board. “We’ve had an empty space now for two years and a long succession of people coming to run restaurants that really didn’t add anything in terms of the value to our property. We’ve never had restaurateurs who are professionals and had a history of running successful restaurants so we wholeheartedly support this.” Like Kasdin, he said, “Without that variance [for alcohol service hours], their financial plan just isn’t viable.” 

“They’re good people. They’re very sensitive. They’ve said to us they want to have good relations with us,” he said. Vitale said the design renderings for the restaurant “complement seamlessly with the streetscape project… There will be a synergy going both ways so it’s a win-win for us all around, not only our building but the whole North Beach area.”

HPB members approved the design and extended alcohol service hours with provisions for a 180-day progress report following issuance of the restaurant's BTR (Business Tax Receipt or license) and a required review of the extended hours if there is a change of 50% ownership in the future.

Following the approval, Recio said he has been a North Beach resident for the past five years. When he first moved to Miami Beach in 1989 he lived in South Beach and, at various times, lived in New York and Las Vegas while working on restaurant projects. 

“I just love it in North Beach,” he said. “It reminds me of the South Beach from back in the day. It’s not congested. It’s an area that’s up and coming.”

“In particular, the corner of 74th and Ocean Terrace is a space that I’ve had my eye on for many years,” Recio said. “When I initially saw the space, I was not aware of the Ocean Terrace streetscape project." It was the space, he "was in love with," he said. "When it was available I sought it out.”

Later, he learned about the streetscape project. “It’s really going to be an amazing project. It’s only going to add value to that corner and I think for all the properties on Ocean Terrace," he said.

Recio said it’s too early to talk about specifics of the restaurant concept, menus, and chef so stay tuned, as they say.

Renderings: ArchitectureWorks


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