The Road to X Miami’s Delicious Lobby

2 November 2018     |     By

Life’s better with company. Company is better with great coffee, food and cocktails. We did the math and made X Miami’s lobby the best hangout in downtown Miami.

Pulling it off was an uphill journey.

Nobody (we’re aware of) had considered making the lobby of a high-rise apartment community into a neighborhood hub for caffeine, bites and booze. Every building code and consultant assumed we’d do what everyone else does; throw a front desk by the entrance to guard empty couches en route to the elevator. There was no (helpful) rulebook for our vision of the lobby as a public space.

The design team would need to invent new tricks.

Independent coffee and cocktail bars had to share a service kitchen across from the mailroom and package lockers, without impeding the path from front door-to-elevators-to-garage. Seating needed to comfortably accommodate business meetings, dates, laptop work, and group dinners. Everything had to connect with a huge central courtyard and pump tunes without disturbing residents above.

Then we’d need a partner to actually, ya know, make the food and drinks. Hotel food and beverage operations only recently started being taken seriously. Condo cafes are notoriously unfeasible. There was no precedent for convincing a worthy operator that they should put their time, money and reputation at risk to make this successful.

Challenges become the natural state when you’re intentionally different. We rely on roadblocks as a signal that we’re making the right moves…then hope for a bit of luck.

A few design constraints that defied initial intent turned into happy accidents. The cocktail bar would need to be enclosed, crushing our original vision of an open floorplan, but creating a delightfully intimate refuge for imbibing. Achieving the desired exposed ceiling aesthetic would actually cost more than enclosing all the wires and ducts, but the resulting black dropped ceiling is way better for sound insulation while giving our column ‘trees’ a polished crescendo. It was all coming together.

Then we got insanely lucky. A reunion with an old friend running one of the best kitchens in Napa Valley led to talks of entrepreneurship, breaking down the divide between public and private spaces, making exquisitely prepared simple ingredients available to the masses, and…moving to Miami. We had our chef, Carey Hynes, a guy who ran kitchens at Momofuku!

As if that wasn’t enough to be grateful for, Carey convinced Will Thompson to join him behind the bar. Will was named was named by Food & Wine Magazine as one of the country’s best new mixologists and named Boston’s Best Bartender by Boston Magazine! These friends were going to move their lives to Miami and set up shop in the X Miami lobby. We were elated, and continue to marvel at their passion for their craft.

Mockingbird cafe and Jaguar Sun kitchen and bar are open and absolutely crushing it. Residents, MDC students and local offices are flocking (bird reference!) to enjoy Counter Culture Coffee and JoJo Tea with absurdly well-made avocado toast, crunchy salads, and egg sandwiches, plus rotating local pastries.

The Jaguar Sun happy hour is a stupidly good deal on approachable martinis, fresh dressed oysters, and shaved ham. Slink back for dinner to crush big plates of short rib and fresh-made pastas that the Miami fooderatie are freaking out about. Tom Froggins will advise you on the best cocktail pairing (truth is, you can’t go wrong).

You’ll be in great company any time you stop by. All residents get their first drink free. Holy shit, we did it.




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