When news broke in September that two beloved Miami institutions — The Wynwood Yard and O Cinema Wynwood — would be displaced by a giant apartment building, even some of their most faithful clients assumed the businesses had closed.
But Della Heiman, who founded Wynwood Yard at 56 NW 29th Street in 2015, wants you to know the popular open-air culinary incubator and event space is still open.
“Business has dropped by 20-40 percent since the story broke,” Heiman said. “Many of our loyal customers think we are closed. The news spread like wildfire and most people focused on what was going to happen next year. But we don’t have a hard date for what our last day will be, and we’re gearing up for what we think is going to be our best season ever.”
And when the current season wraps, the Wynwood Yard will be taking its show west to Doral.
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Due to open in spring 2019, after the Wynwood location wraps up, The Doral Yard will measure a total of 20,000 square feet on the northeast corner of Main Street and Paseo Boulevard in downtown Doral.
The Doral Yard will be divided into three zones: A 5,000-square-foot indoor space, The Hall, featuring a micro food hall, full-service bar and cafe; CHARCOAL bar and grill, the full-service restaurant originally launched at Wynwood Yard, housed in refurbished shipping containers; and a 5,000-square-foot outdoor space, The Backyard, that will host music and live events.
“Aside from creating a space that makes everyone feel welcome, this project will be completely new and different than any of the projects we’ve worked on before,” said Ken Lyon, co-founder of Yard Hospitality. “With The Doral Yard, we crafted a concept that not only reflects and complements the Doral community, but also will help the community thrive. This will be an elevated experience, specifically created for the Doral market.”
Ana-Marie Codina Barlick, CEO of Codina Partners, developers of Downtown Doral, said she initially reached out to Heiman, Lyon and Wynwood Business Improvement District board chairman Joseph Furst and Goldman Properties as consultants for ideas on how to help give Doral the kind of unique destination vibe that Wynwood enjoys.
“We wanted to create something authentic, and as a natural progression of that conversation, we all came to the same conclusion that The Doral Yard would be great for us,” Codina said. “It allows us to serve our community and is also a play for people from Kendall, Hialeah and Miami Lakes. It will have a much more permanent feel than the Wynwood location because we have a brick-and-mortar component and the outdoor space won’t be gravel. The Doral Yard will be here for the foreseeable future.”
A farewell celebration
Before the move, Heiman said Wynwood Yard will go out with a bang. The festivities kick off this weekend with the Miami Folk and Indie Fest, featuring live musical performances by various Florida music acts including Foxlove, The Sh-Booms!, and Keith Johns. The free concerts, which will celebrate the Yard’s three-year anniversary, will take place from 5-11 p.m. Friday.
A new “Magic Season Dinner and a Movie Series,” a collaboration between the Yard and O Cinema, will offer themed menus served by CHARCOAL grill followed by a screening at the theater. The first title in the series will be “Three Days of Glory,” a documentary about the Burgundy wine region of France. The monthly series, originally scheduled to launch in November, will kick off on December 13.
Other upcoming events include the return of the Kids Entrepreneur Fest, an ideas and job skills event for children ages 6-18 in January, and The Yard Family Reunion/Wynwood Yard Food Fair on Feb. 9.
A success story
Wynwood Yard began in the fall of 2015, with five eateries on four vacant lots owned by David Lombardi, principal/broker of Lombardi Properties. Since the lots were listed for sale, the original lease was for 10 months, with an option to extend.
With no bids on the property, the Yard continued to grow in popularity, drawing pedestrian traffic to the formerly desolate NW 29th Street. The open-air space drew a number of revolving eateries and food trucks, including Burgerstruck, Pasilla Tacos and World Famous House of Mac.
The space also became known for impromptu concerts by world-famous performers, including a surprise 1 a.m. appearance by Shakira in May 2017 and another unannounced performance by Coldplay’s Chris Martin and U.K. singer Izzy Bizu in August 2017 during one of the Yard’s weekly Reggae Sundays events.
Another beneficiary of Wynwood Yard’s success was the neighboring O Cinema Wynwood, the Miami arthouse fixture which opened its doors in Feb. 2011. Kareem Tabsch, co-founder of O Cinema, said he has also suffered a significant drop in business — as much as 40 percent — over the last few months since news of the upcoming relocation broke.
“We’ve been combating the perception that we’ve packed up and gone home,” Tabsch said. “We have also been hurt by the drop in business at Wynwood Yard, because a lot of people would come to our theater before or after they went there.”
Tabsch said the cinema will also remain open until spring 2019 and is actively developing a project for the theater’s new and permanent home elsewhere in Miami-Dade. Its sister venue O Cinema Miami Beach will continue its programming as usual.
Aside from The Doral Yard, Heiman and Lyon are proceeding with their plans to open North Beach Yard, to be located on Collins Ave. and 81st Street, sometime in 2019.
The Miami home-building giant Lennar Corp. intends to put up a 189-unit apartment building, to be called Wynwood Green, on the sites currently occupied by Wynwood Yard and O Cinema. The company purchased the eight parcels of land from Lombardi for an undisclosed price. The transaction is expected to be finalized by the end of 2018.