Way back in September 2017, when Time Out Market first confirmed the rumors that it was headed to Miami Beach, Miami.com ran an article with a sentence that just might blow your mind. You can find it in the very first paragraph: “while pretty much every major metropolis has their own upscale food courts,” wrote journalist Lesley Abravanel, “Miami does not.”
Two years later, Miami’s dining scene is dominated by food halls; a half dozen and counting. But Time Out Market promises to be something more special; 17,500 square feet of space featuring 17 kitchens, including ones helmed by chefs Norman Van Aken of Three, Michael Beltran of Ariete, Jeremy Ford of Stubborn Seed and Scott Linquist of Coyo Taco, and a demonstration kitchen for visiting chefs.
It is, after all, the food hall that kicked off the trend and is just now going global, with Miami being its first stop on a multi-city, multi-country expansion over the coming years.
To figure out how this all got started, we tracked down three figures involved in its development, each giving us a taste of what diners can expect at the recently opened location.
HOW JOÃO CEPEDA’S CRAZY IDEA WENT GLOBAL
As the story goes, the idea for the Time Out Market, originally, was something pretty small. It began back in 2013, when former foreign correspondent João Cepeda was the Portugal editorial director for Time Out, the dining and nightlife magazines that began in London in 1968 and since spread to 315 cities in 58 countries.
He had this dream of opening an exhibit space where he could bring to life whatever they were writing about in the magazine. Maybe one month it would be a chef cooking up something, and maybe next it would be actors putting on small plays.
“I love going into the office and saying ‘I have a crazy idea,’ and they all put their hands on their heads, like, not again!” Cepeda says.
At the time, Portugal’s economy was nearly crashed, and so when he went looking for a piece of property for his little installation project, Cepeda stumbled on something huge, something iconic and something that was far cheaper than it should have been: the Mercado da Ribeira, a historic, stunning space with soaring ceilings and light streaming in from big windows.
Cepeda’s small idea turned into a $9 million project, a curation of Lisbon’s best food, drinks and cultural experiences. It would also become a template for the modern food hall movement, a collection of 32 restaurants and kiosks, with chefs and vendors selling everything from flowers to sardines to custard pastries. With 3.9 million visitors last year, the market is now the city’s largest tourist attraction.
Miami made sense as the second spot for Time Out Market, Cepeda says. Our Latin influence means things move at a pace he can understand, even if that means it took his team two years to open the Miami Beach location. He’s also captivated by the passion here, how people are either not interested in something in the least or entirely crazy about it.
“We just have to now get them excited about Time Out Market Miami,” he says.
THE MAN RESPONSIBLE FOR BRINGING ON 120 CHEFS
It would be difficult for Didier Souillat to say exactly where he’s from. Growing up, his parents taught French in a variety of international destinations including Morocco, Ireland and Venezuela. He had managed hotels and restaurants the world over by 2002 when he landed at Harrod’s, the famed and historic London department store. Here, he oversaw over 28 in-house food hall restaurants. Hakkasan hired Souillat in 2010, and he spent six years working on an expansion of the global Cantonese restaurant chain with a Michelin star to its name.
When Time Out Group brought him on as Time Out Market CEO in 2016, the company had ambitious plans for expansion. This year alone, the company expects to add five locations: Miami, New York, Boston, Chicago and Montréal, with a Dubai opening planned for next year, London in 2021 and Prague in 2022. Including Lisbon, together these will showcase a curated mix of over 160 top chefs.
“Some people think we’re brave, and I think maybe some think we’re stupid,” Souillat jokes. But Souillat is certain that Time Out Market Miami will survive the city’s trend of over-saturation of the food hall concepts and that if they build it, foodies will come. “We tell chefs that any food hall can promise they will be busy on weekends, but we want to be busy at Monday for lunch,” he says.
THE RESTAURANT EXPERT YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF
It would be tough for Rod Gutierrez to enjoy any job more than the first one he had in the industry, working at the ice cream stand at Lincoln Center. “People are so happy when you hand them an ice cream,” Gutierrez says. “And imagine how many hundreds you’re selling in the middle of Lincoln Center.”
While attending college in North Carolina, he took a side job at the Capital City Club in Raleigh. The property’s owner, ClubCorp, has exacting standards that Gutierrez credits with crafting his management style, right down to the well-pressed shirts and the crumber, a pocket tool to remove bits of bread from every table.
“Those early rules really made me into who I was going to be,” Gutierrez says. Who that was, it turns out, is an expert in the largely behind-thescenes management of restaurants and nightclubs, including local favorites Pearl at Nikki Beach, three locations of B.E.D., Michael Mina 74, Sweet Liberty, Mercer Kitchen with Jean-George Restaurants and Hakkasan.
Even though he has played an integral role in the success of so many places, Gutierrez has largely avoided the spotlight, instead watching it shine on the owners, chefs or bartenders. When he got the offer in 2017 to become General Manager of Time Out Market Miami, he said he knew this could become his biggest achievement.
“I’ve always been an adrenaline junkie, to be honest with you. The things that are the hardest, that’s what interests me,” he says.
Gutierrez found a worthy challenge in opening Time Out, one that has found him focused on customizations, with each chef needing slicers for charcuterie, special grills or designer espresso machines. Now that is has opened, Gutierrez will still remain largely in the background, letting the chefs do the talking. “I’m OK with that,” he says. “Let them be the stars.”