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'Hustle & Soul' star says his SoBe restaurant is for real — and he came to play

Chef Lawrence Page
Chef Lawrence Page WEtv

Lawrence Page is serious. For real.

Contrary to what the haters might think, the "Hustle & Soul" star is opening up his Pink Teacup Villa in South Beach for all the right reasons.

On Friday night, to be exact. Dinner service for the grand opening party starts at 8 p.m. at the Soul Food restaurant, located at 1542 Washington Ave. in Miami Beach.

Though the general public is invited to the party (the end time was not provided) and can ogle all the reality stars seen on the popular WEtv show, Page wants to make sure he gets repeat visitors.

"I've built this place brick by brick," says Page. "I want locals here for the long haul. We're not just in this for six months to invite all the celebrities to be seen, make $10 million, then close six months later. We want customers who appreciate you putting your heart and soul into something."

To help make sure people eat at the Washington Avenue spot and continue to do so, the Brooklyn chef and his staff are offering up a place that isn't "strictly" just a restaurant.

"We'll have this cool vibe," adds the Brooklyn restaurateur, who has relocated from NYC for the time being to see his dream project realized. "Pink Teacup is where you feel like you're home but you have a three- or four-star restaurant experience. You can let your hair down with us."

Page promises different areas for different tastes: a main dining area serving all the comfort food staples "with a twist," as well as separate areas for fraternizing, such as a high-end cocktail lounge. Ana Lavender, Page's fiancee and general manager, is in charge of that situation, and she takes adult entertainment very seriously.

"I feel like there's something missing in terms of cocktails with the beach crowd," she says. "We're here to fill that gap. I call being it 'booze forward.'"

Lavender explains that the drinks at Pink Teacup will contain quality, fresh ingredients, at a moderate price.

"We're not using fillers, like sour mix," she says. "We're not trying to just make money and make people hung over."

Liquid highlights will include a gin and tonic with fresh juniper berry as well as a drink concocted with activated charcoal to "suck the toxins out."

Page and Lavender both sound confident. But we had to ask: Were there any major challenges to launching Pink Teacup in South Florida?

You bet (beside the boring permits and annoying cameras capturing every move).

The show has its share of haters who assume that Page is just opening the place for publicity and they call it a sham.

Plus: Some of the employees who applied to work for the local restaurant are more interested in appearing on the small screen then sending out plates of food.

"I mean, we're talking real staffers vs. TV staffers," says Page with a laugh. "There are those who want to really work and those who want to be on TV. It can be dysfunctional."

For those who assume Pink Teacup isn't actually a restaurant, Page has a message for you: "Yes, we are a reality show, but we are real."

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