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Chef Michelle Bernstein’s restaurant doesn’t stay empty for long

Sep. 9, 2016

Michelle Bernstein’s Mimo restaurant may be gone, but its replacement in the Upper East Side is another local name.

The nearby Bar Meli, a wine bar with Greek-inspired fare by a restaurateur with long Miami Beach ties, will move into the 2,500-square foot restaurant that home-grown celebrity chef Bernstein made famous.

Liza Meli, who came to South Beach from Sydney, Australia 23 years ago, had opened several restaurants in the area (the former Anise and Ouzo Greek Taverna) before starting Bar Meli on 79th Street, just west of Biscayne Boulevard nearly three years ago.

“She put the whole Biscayne corridor on the map,” Meli said of Bernstein’s CENA by Michy. “She was part of the reason I ended up in that neighborhood.”

CENA closed in May after a lease dispute with new landlords, claiming rising Miami rents played into the decision not to sign a new lease, which would have been three times their original rate.

By moving into the former CENA location, 6925 Biscayne Blvd., just three miles south, Bar Meli hopes to keep the diners who came to the tapas and wine bar as a happy hour stop-over. The new restaurant will be a full-service lunch and dinner destination. She continues to work with chef Maykel Solis, who went to culinary school in Cuba.

“We want to be more of a destination for our clientele,” Meli said.

By Carlos Frías


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