Julia & Henry's Opens with Promise to Make Downtown the Epicenter of Miami

Imagine a place where you can arrive in the morning to grab breakfast on the go at a walk-up ventanita, return for lunch while getting some work done at a communal workspace, meet friends for happy hour, listen to musicians rehearse inside onsite recording studios, and have dinner at a rooftop restaurant with food prepared by a world-renowned chef.

Julia & Henry's Opens with Promise to Make Downtown the Epicenter of Miami
Life Style

Then, if you feel up to it, grab a cocktail in the late-night venue that's open almost round the clock.

All of it will soon be possible thanks to a large-scale culinary entertainment complex that opens its doors in Miami's up-and-coming historic downtown district early next month.

Julia & Henry's, which announced this week that it will officially open its doors to the public on Saturday, June 3, is welcoming food and beverage concepts both new and familiar to the Magic City.

In October 2022, news broke that a real estate investment project known as School of Whales would help transform one of the city's historical landmarks — originally constructed in 1936 — into a multilevel culinary entertainment venue. Today, the 59,000-square-foot building has an estimated $49 million valuation, promising 800,000 visitors annually.

The historic Walgreens building at 200 East Flagler Street was purchased in 2018 by Stambul Development. At the time, the idea was to "revive the past and build the future of downtown by reinstating the notoriety of Flagler Street to become the center of activity it once was," shares Stanbul operations coordinator and School of Whales cofounder Daniel Peña Giraldi.

Located in the heart of the city's center, Julia & Henry's was designed to be more than a culinary destination. Its main goal, adds Giraldi, is to encourage positive change in downtown Miami while honoring the building's roots and the current needs of the community.

According to the City of Miami Planning Department, the building was constructed during the depression-era. At the time, the unveiling of a five-story Walgreens Drug Store represented a significant investment of $1.5 million and was seen as a testament to confidence in the city's future.

Now, Julia & Henry's aims to do the same for the modern era.

"We've designed Julia & Henry's to be an all-day venue," says Giraldi. "The experience will appeal to all five senses."

Moving forward, Miami-based King Goose Hospitality will oversee the seven-level venue, which has been several years in planning.

The group has been working behind the scenes in an effort to cultivate a cohesive experience within the building, King Goose Hospitality CEO Andrea Petersen tells New Times.

"Julia & Henry's is the perfect way for people to experience what Miami has become — an entertainment and culinary center that represents all the cultures, regions, and talent who come here," shares Petersen. "It's a distinctive quality experience that is very aligned with the downtown crowd. It is a place where locals will gather and a place where tourists will come to feel like locals."

Designed to showcase one of the nation's largest concentrations of award-winning chefs under a single roof, Julia & Henry's will offer 26 different culinary choices. Patrons can expect a gastronomic journey via menus crafted by James Beard award-winning chefs and talented creators recognized by the World's 50 Best Rankings.

Miami culinary scene's most lauded chefs will be part of the action, including Michelle Berstein and José Mendín, who will be serving alongside internationally recognized names like French pastry chef Yann Couvreur, Latin American restaurateur Tomas Kalika, and top Peruvian toque Renzo Garibaldi.

Bernstein will offer her famed fried chicken at Michy's Chicken Shack. Also by Bernstein is an all-day lunch spot, Luncheria, which she describes as "a love note to Miami and its multi-ethnic Latino culture."

South America "Best Chef" nominee Kalika will debut his first U.S.  restaurant, Mensch. A casual twist on his high-end restaurant, Mishiguene (ranked No. 18 on Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants), Mensch will bring his take on fresh Mediterranean fare with global influences.

And Garibaldi will introduce Miami to Osso, which made Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants list for six consecutive years. At this butcher shop and elevated restaurant rolled into one, diners can find premium cuts of meat, from grilled ribeye to flavored housemade sausages.

Mendín will offer his take on a burger joint with June, which promises to utilize gourmet ingredients and bold global flavors. The chef is also behind HitchiHaika, a fast-casual gyoza concept inspired by his hitchhiking dumpling exploration around the globe.

In the coming months, Julia & Henry's rooftop will soon be home to Torno Subito by Massimo Bottura, a chef with establishments that have garnered three-Michelin stars. His protégé, chef Bernardo Paladin, who helmed Dubai's first Michellin-starred restaurant, Torno Subito, will take the helm at Torno Subito Miami, a concept inspired by Bottura's childhood beach vacations to Rimini.

For the imbibers, every floor will present a new bar experience. The idea: offer guests a perfect pairing selection of specialty wines, craft beer, and artisanal cocktails with menus curated to provide the ideal beverage to showcase alongside each floor's unique culinary concepts.

Make your way through the main doors of Julia & Henry's, and you'll be welcomed by La Época, a natural wine bar nestled at the base of the three-story-tall wine tower with the menu curated by renowned natural wine sommelier and co-owner of NIU Kitchen, Karina Iglesias.

Longtime Miami craft beer bar BoxElder, which closed the doors to its Wynwood space in 2021, will reopen on the second floor. In true market form, it will be a celebration of craft beer and the great brewers behind it, with rotating taps and a large assortment of beers by the can and bottle highlighting breweries both in-state and across the country.

The Lasseter, named as an homage to one of Miami's first bars, will offer an upscale cocktail experience on the venue's third floor with the menu curated by Unfiltered Hospitality.

Head to the basement, and you'll discover Jolene, a high-energy, retro-themed nightlife venue in the basement of Julia & Henry's. Curated by BarLab, Jolene will showcase the group's award-winning menus alongside local acts and global dance music via a cutting-edge audio system for those looking for after-hours dancing.

Most importantly, guests will have the opportunity to cherish a relic of the past in a modern environment.

The opening of Julia & Henry's is a monumental moment, says Giraldi, where a former community beacon known for its 88-foot soda fountain and ice cream parlor located on the main street of the burgeoning city of Miami will now be an all-day entertainment and culinary destination for locals and tourists alike.

Giraldi says it was important to honor the history of the property and Miami with every step of the redevelopment project, from the name to its use. Over the past several years, Stanbul rose above the city's historic preservation codes outlined to scrupulously preserve each and every historically significant component of the iconic property, he shares.

Giraldi is no stranger to historic building preservation and embarked on this project with a mission to revive the past with the hope of creating a prosperous future for downtown by reinstating Flagler Street to the epicenter of activity it once was.

"Historic buildings are cultural artifacts that tell a story of our past, and we have a responsibility to preserve and adapt them for the future," says Giraldi. "Preservation is not about turning back the clock. It's about finding ways to make historic buildings relevant to modern needs while maintaining their historical significance."