“Miami is an exciting place and one of the most international American cities, given its cross-section of cultures. It attracts so many people because it’s dynamic, colorful, and robust, and those are some of the many reasons we love it too.” —John Meadow
I always think of Miami as the home of the boutique hotel. The Gale Hotel South Beach, with 87 rooms and a beachy James Avenue entrance, exudes all that charm I associate with this city. Unlike most hotels in Miami, the Gale has three entrances, all of which are our food and beverage venues. This gave us a chance to truly shape the identity of the hotel and stay true to our interests in creating authentic, independent bars and restaurants, instead of hotel amenity–style operations.
Our local partner, Josh Wagner, is a true pillar of the local community, and the response has been fantastic. Given the infinite supply of Italian restaurants in the city, it’s amazing to see repeat business at Dolce Italian from some of Miami’s most colorful characters. In fact, across all three of our venues, our primary audience is local, which is a testament to our team and overall approach to good, old-fashioned hospitality. It’s not about pretense and high gloss—we exhibit an understated, hands-up, throwback feeling.
Passport to Miami Like a Local
Josh Wagner knows Miami. He doesn’t just live in the city, he understands it. “No venue can survive down here without local backup. And to make an impact in Miami, you have to cater to Miamians first. That’s unique in South Beach, and something that I believe sets LDV apart.”
Wagner points to local and international trendsetters as The Gale’s primary mix of guests. “They have discerning tastes, and when they travel, they want to hang out where the locals are.”
LDV’s three venues at the Gale complement one another. “At Dolce Italian, you can go as shallow or as deep as you want in having an authentic Italian dining experience. Come in and have a couple of cocktails, sit at the bar, have a pizza and appetizers before you hit the town, or have a full meal.” The cocktail program is decidedly Italian and makes Dolce the perfect spot—right on 17th and Collins—to sit back, have a Negroni, and people watch. “Every major city on the planet has a classic cocktail bar, but Miami hadn’t had one in decades. We created the Regent Cocktail Club to have great music, veteran bartenders, and classic cocktails. All of our guys have at least 15 years of bartending experience.” Smoke a cigar on the patio or saddle up to the bar and get your passport stamped. “The Regent Cocktail Club Passport Program allows you to purchase a small leather-bound book that offers a selection of 60 cocktails. Once you fill your book with 25 unique cocktails, you become a member of the Regent Cocktail Club.” Recipes for each cocktail purchased are included in the book, so you can recreate them at home. “As a member you receive certain privileges: access to tastemaker events across the city, an engraved crystal glass, and a lapel pin identifying you as a member. Encouraging our guests to get an education about what they are drinking is a core value. It helps them open their eyes and their palates, and it’s a great experience.”
Making its mark on the national cocktail scene, the Regent Cocktail Club was named 2013 Best Bar in Miami by the Miami New Times and honored with the 2014 Best Bar/Lounge ZEST Award. “Our staff has a wealth of knowledge, and we encourage guests to come in and learn from them.” The all-star team includes Julio Cabrera, who graced the cover of GQ’s December issue for being named Bombay Sapphire’s Most Imaginative Bartender; John Lermayer, who was named Best American Bartender at Tales of the Cocktail five years ago; Danny Valdez, founder of Cure Bar in New Orleans and former global ambassador for Ron Zacapa Rum; and Angelo Viera, who Wagner calls one of the most underrated bartenders in America today. “He comes to work every day on his Harley wearing a leather jacket over his tuxedo,” says Wagner.
“What you might define as South Beach is not a realistic interpretation of what we locals do here 365 days a year. We’re not just mega clubs and sparklers, beach, and pool parties. This city is a melting pot of cultures and philosophies. Besides the value we provide at Dolce, the Regent Cocktail Club, and the Rec Room, we have succeeded in becoming part of the fabric of the local community, because our venues address the needs and desires of things we want on a daily basis, not just for tourists.”