Support Local: Miam Café
April 27, 2017
With the vibrant, zebra-striped exterior of The Wynwood Building, Miam Café is not what one would consider hidden. And yet, Miam (which means “yum” in French) is tucked away from the fuss of the arts district’s mainstays, creating a haven for those who are simply living, working and thriving in the popular neighborhood.
Since it’s opening back in September 2014, the European-style café has showed us the importance of community and slowing down in not only their laid-back atmosphere, but also in their wholesome food preparation practices; contrary to the detached, drive-thru experiences that one has grown accustomed to in the states.
Below I talked with Miam owner, Alexis Jacot on the fostering of comradery in cafe culture and local businesses.
You’re originally from Switzerland, what made you decide to open a café in Wynwood?
It was always an idea that I had in my mind. When I was in Switzerland, it was a little more difficult because the market was very slow. In Miami I had better opportunities because it was a booming city, Wynwood especially was a city that I loved at first sight. The first time I came here I was really amazed by the energy and atmosphere of the neighborhood, and it really matched the idea that I had for a café concept.
You also co-founded Here & Away. Can you talk briefly about that venture?
Here & Away is a side project that I started with my wife. This is really more of a hobby. We like traveling and discovering cool places around the world, usually off the beaten path that offers some sort of local feeling of the place, which is not really a chain. Places that are owned by real owners and have experience with the local people and the food.
Cafes in the states don’t even compare to those in European countries. So what are you trying to accomplish here in Miami?
So it’s true that the American culture is different than the European culture. And it’s true that when we came from Europe that we were surprised at the café atmosphere. Cafes are a place where people gather for breakfast, to grab a coffee, have a meeting, to eat; it’s like a social hub for people in the neighborhood. That’s what cafes in Europe are used for. Here, when we came to Miami, my impression was that cafes were more like businesses. It’s not true for all of them, but the chains are more business orientated and it doesn’t have the atmosphere where people bring their stories and meet friends. So far, we’ve been successful in Miam because we have a lot of regulars that get to know each other at the café and are now friends. We’re really proud to see that from a space that wasn’t used at all and on a street where nothing really happens. It’s a really lively place.
You guys are truly a hidden gem that you’ve created a community for the locals to venture to.
That’s what we really like about it because we are off the beaten path of Second Avenue where everyone goes. I think that’s what people like as well. We’re a little bit off of Wynwood but still in the real Wynwood that isn’t too touristy and is quiet to grab coffee and have no pressure what so ever, like they’re at home.
What was the inspiration behind the menu?
I’m half French and half Swiss, but I didn’t want to bring a typical French menu. I wanted to stick to the vibe of the community that I’m in and use the same products that the people know, but with a little touch of European flair. You know what I mean? You’ll see we have a breakfast burrito, which is not French at all, however, we bring a little French touch in all that we do. So it’s a mix of American food with European and French touch.
I had a clear idea of what I wanted on the menu, even though I gave a blank canvas to the sous-chef that’s there, I like to give an idea of what it should be. I’m not going to serve sushi, [so] we need to stick to the ideas we had at the beginning, which is a simple menu with natural products made from scratch as much as we can. All the things we cannot make, we buy them from local suppliers such as the coffee from Eternity Coffee Roasters in Downtown Miami. The bread, we can’t make bread so we leave it to the people who know how to make it. Otherwise, we make it homemade from scratch. It’s very simple with high-quality products.
What is one item on your menu that best describes Miam Cafe?
The Miam Club is one of the sandwiches we had from the beginning and has been the most successful item on the menu. It’s bread from the bakers, so it’s local and we bring a little European touch to it. It’s something very common, but since we put quality ingredients it’s so much better than other things you’ll get at other places. Yeah, it’s simple, but you can definitely taste the difference.
Why is it important to support local businesses?
It’s very important, especially nowadays since everything seems to be similar in every big city, at least in my travels. I’m more and more amazed to see if you go to Asia, Europe, or around the U.S, you see the same stores and the same chains. It’s sad because you tend to lose the local flair and what makes a city different from another. [Also] it’s important to support the people who are trying to make something different with their own ideas and specialties to help the community and each other grow. I could buy our bread from a huge company, but they wouldn’t help me as much as a small company would. It’s about building a community and a small family where we’re not just competitors, but also a family looking out for each other.
Check out Miam Café at miamcafe.com.
This is a piece in our series spotlighting small businesses part of our Support Local initiative.