Food

Michael Schwartz just closed one of his Harry’s Pizzerias. Here’s what it means for the others

Michael Schwartz still intends on opening a pizzeria on Miami Beach, but isn’t sure whether he will call it Harry’s Pizzeria or Genuine Pizza.
Michael Schwartz still intends on opening a pizzeria on Miami Beach, but isn’t sure whether he will call it Harry’s Pizzeria or Genuine Pizza.

Harry’s Pizzeria may have been a hit for chef Michael Schwartz in Miami, but a recent closing in the suburbs has the award-winning chef rethinking his plans for future shops.

Schwartz closed his Harry’s Pizzeria in Downtown Dadeland Aug. 4, just over two years after opening across from the Dadeland Mall, he said Monday. Schwartz is re-evaluating what it means for the future of his artisanal pizza chain, which he was hoping to grow into a national brand.

“It didn’t ever really catch on,” Schwartz said. “For whatever reason, it didn’t resonate.”

Harry’s, named for Schwartz’s son, was an instant success when it opened as a standalone store in the Design District in 2011. Food & Wine magazine named it one of the country’s top pizzerias. A second location in Coconut Grove, opend in 2015, has been a success, too. Both those locations remain open.

So just six months after opening a third in Downtown Dadeland in May of 2017, Schwartz announced he would take the brand national, changing the name to Genuine Pizza, to trade on his 12-year-old Design District restaurant, Michael’s Genuine, where he won a 2010 James Beard Foundation award.

He had hoped to open 18 Genuine Pizzas is three years, starting with a location in Aventura Mall. Two years into that plan, he has two Harry’s and one Genuine.

“Yeah, 18 in three years, we’re not going to hit that,” Schwartz said. “We never took for granted this would be hard. It proved to be as difficult as we thought it would be.”

A Miami Beach location is under construction at 1680 Meridian Ave., and a lease is signed for another in Sunrise. But now Schwartz says he’s not sure whether these will be branded Genuine or the original Harry’s.

“Harry’s has a strong reputation, stronger than we realized,” Schwartz said.

This closing won’t stop him from taking risks, he said. In May, he opened a second Michael’s Genuine location in Cleveland’s historic Shaker Heights. And he believes the Harry’s on Miami Beach will find the audience that one hidden in a Kendall complex didn’t.

“We gave it a good run,” Schwartz said. “We’re better at recognizing when things aren’t working now.”

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