Feast your eyes on three hotspots opening tonight in Miami! Ahead of the holiday weekend, David Grutman of Groot Hospitality will cut the proverbial ribbon at the new eateries—Winker’s, Toothfairy, and S.F.C (Sushi Fly Chicken)—co-located at 1575 Alton Road. While it’s the premiere time that Grutman’s trail-blazing group is going for a hat trick opening, it seems like the dad-of-two thrives on ticking ‘firsts’ off his list. Here’s what makes him tick!
You’ve been busy! Do you drink coffee? How do you take it?
I drink espresso. Sometimes a single, sometimes a double, depending on how much needs to be done.
This is the first time you’ve unveiled three new concepts at once. Can you talk us through them?
I’d been eyeing the space, which is the iconic former Firestone tire garage on Alton Road, for a while. I thought, ‘Why not make something unique?’ by creating three different restaurants under one roof. So, we have Toothfairy, which is our dedicated bakery and ice cream shop. It has a nostalgic-meets-Instagram-era vibe. We’ve got Winker’s, which is my version of a classic diner, but modernized. And we’ve got Sushi Fly Chicken, which is part takeout restaurant out front, and part bar and lounge in the back. S.F.C is very much inspired by Tokyo’s underground scene, but done with a Miami spin.
Winker’s is named for your childhood cat. Are you still an animal lover? What’s your spirit animal?
Winker’s is actually named for my family’s current cat. He’s got one eye, and my daughters love him. We’ve had him for a while, so the name is a way to honor how much he’s been a part of our lives, and to impart a general sense of family. I’m an animal lover, for sure, but as far as my spirit animal… that’s a good question. I’ve never thought about it. Whatever animal never stops moving.
What was on the design mood board for each venture?
So, S.F.C channels Tokyo’s bar scene. We’ve got this amazing mural, 75 feet long, done by a Miami-based artist named Santlov. It’s basically one big collage of animé and manga figues. On the opposite wall, we have five standout prints by Fin DAC. There are also these zig-zag overhead neon lights, like you’re in a futuristic subway station. Winker’s has an Art Deco vibe, with starburst and surfboard-tail wall panels. Pullman leather booths, metal accents, and a peninsula bar complete the vintage element. But at the same time, Winker’s feels modern. It has a big, open floor plan, and plenty of space for diners. Toothfairy’s design is all about the Instagram moment. Inside, there’s an all-over ombré paint scheme, from pink to blue. It’s super photogenic!
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Where do you go when you need a hit of inspiration?
When I need inspiration, or to clear my head in order to get inspiration, I go to the tennis court. I try to play every day. I also head to my villa in Turks & Caicos to recharge.
If you could only pick one treat from Toothfairy, which is your first dessert venture, what would your favorite be?
It’s impossible to pick a favorite! Our chef, Dallas Wynne, has been named Miami’s best pastry chef twice. Everything is fantastic.
Tell us what’s new with [Grutman’s tennis-themed brand] Prince!
There are lots of things in the pipeline with Prince. Two big new launches I can mention are a collaboration with Melissa Wood Health, by Melissa Wood-Tepperberg, and a collaboration with Reebok. The Reebok partnership is super Miami, super bright. I love that both Prince and Reebok are modern sports and lifestyle brands, but that they each have such strong legacies in tennis history.
What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
The people. From a visitor stepping into one of our spots for the first time to a major celebrity who has been to LIV a hundred times, what I care most about is making sure everyone has a great time—we’re in the fun business. When my guests have a good time, that’s the best possible feeling.
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What did you originally want to be when you grew up?
I think deep down I always gravitated towards hospitality, even if I didn’t fully realize it at a young age. Thank God I didn’t pursue my original career track out of college. Insurance. No thanks!
What makes you proud?
My family. My Groot Hospitality team. And Miami, overall. It’s the best.
Dare we ask…what’s next?!
We’re going global. Watch every space.