Transplanted Manhattanites sunbathing their way through Miami this summer might find themselves scratching their heads when what seems like a familiar sight appears smack-dab in the middle of Wynwood.
Amidst the neighborhood’s deluge of colorful murals and hipster hangouts, the vision reveals itself to be no mirage, with Pastis’s unmistakably New York look, from its Art Deco logo to its grenache-red awning. Indeed, the Manhattan meatpacking district eatery — whose dirty martinis are nearly as salty as its coproprietor Keith McNally, who catapulted the hot spot into the cultural zeitgeist with chef Stephen Starr in 1999 — has headed south for the summer. And, no, not as a pop-up.
In some kind of Freaky Friday restaurant dramedy, Pastis Miami is a living, breathing, eating contradiction; one of two opposing ideas — of two opposing cultures — cut-and-pasted onto one another. And it’s really weird.
Of course, we’re talking about Miami, a city for New Yorkers who don’t own land out east to call their second backyard. Carbone, the red-sauce Italian American celebrity spot that first opened in Greenwich Village, already made the snowbird migration during the pandemic. As did Cote in 2021, and Avra Estiatorio last year. But for McNally — perhaps the sourest of all sour New York locals — to trade in his driver’s cap for a Panama hat… something seems off.
At least, the phenomenon is not just beholden to Florida, for once. This past fall, Major Food Group, which owns Carbone, raised eyebrows when it flew its SoHo gem, Sadelle’s, to Saudi Arabia. The high-end bagel shop is as infamous for its pricey towers of tricolored spreads as it is for the chance to encounter a Hadid sister slathering lox on top of carbs. Its decision to branch out to Riyadh was baffling to say the least. (Sadelle’s also opened a second location in Miami this April.)
You see it on our home turf, too. After decades of servicing Paris’s most fashionable in the city’s 8th arrondissement, Caviar Kaspia unveiled its first U.S. outpost on the Upper East Side this spring at the Mark hotel and a short walk away from Casa Cruz, that made the skip across the pond from London last year. And, later this summer, Erewhon — the infamously fancy Los Angeles health food store that can, and will, turn anything into a blankety smoothie — is rumored to have its own Big Apple moment very soon.
Global franchising is at the core of the mass hospitality ecosystem, but in these select and recent happenings, the act of replication hits closer to home. By taking a beloved locale from New York and dropping it off into the foreign abyss of another culture that is the antithesis of the city, there is a glitch effect that feels like bumping into a childhood teacher at a nightclub at 4 AM: “What are you doing here?” It also discounts the experience. Pastis is iconic for its menu, yes, but also for the fact that nothing else feels quite like it.
So why, exactly, is this city swapping happening with New York establishments? Are we New Yorkers so needy that we can’t fare without McNally’s lobster-ham cobb for one week while away? Or is the allure of NYC — the dream that you can move here, be whomever you want to be, and eat whatever you want — still so well and alive that others can’t help but emulate the culture? We may never have the answer to why our Resy notifications will never go off at home, but now, at least, we can make sure to schedule time at our local favorites when traveling.