Lawrence Page is not playing.
Contrary to what the haters might think, the “Hustle & Soul” star is opening up his Pink Teacup soul food restaurant in South Beach for all the right reasons.
On Friday night, to be exact. The opening dinner party starts at around 8 p.m. at 1542 Washington Avenue in Miami Beach.
Though the general public is invited to ogle all the reality stars seen on the popular WeTV show, Page wants to make sure he gets repeat visitors.
“I’ve built this place brick by brick,” says Page. “I want locals here for the long haul. We’re not just in this for six months to invite all the celebrities, make $10 million, then close six months later. We want repeat customers who appreciate you putting your heart and soul into something.”
To help make sure people eat at the bilevel Washington Avenue spot and continue to do so, the Brooklyn chef and his staff are offering up a place that isn’t “strictly” just a restaurant.
“We’ll have this cool vibe,” adds the Brooklyn restaurateur, who has relocated from NYC for the time being to see his dream project realized. “Pink Teacup is where you feel like you’re home but you have a three or four star restaurant experience. You can let your hair down with us.”
Page promises different areas for different tastes: a main dining area serving all the comfort food staples with a twist as well as separate areas for fraternizing such as a hookah and cocktail lounge.
Ana Lavender, Page’s fiancee and general manager, is in charge of that situation, and she intends to crush the competition.
“I feel like there’s something missing in terms of cocktails with the beach crowd,” she says. “We’re here to fill that gap. I call being it ‘booze forward.'”
Lavender explains that the drinks at Pink Teacup will contain quality, fresh ingredients at a moderate price (between $14 and $16).
“We’re not using fillers, like sour mix,” she says. “We’re not trying to just make money and make people feel hung over.”
Liquid highlights will include a gin and tonic with a fresh juniper berry twist, unlimited brunch mimosas, as well as a drink concocted with activated charcoal to “suck the toxin s out.”
This all sounds great. But were there any major challenges to launching Pink Teacup in South Florida? You bet (besides the boring permits and annoying cameras capturing every move).
The show has its share of haters who assume that Page is just opening the place for publicity and call it a sham.
Plus: Some of the staffers who applied to work for the local restaurant are more interested in appearing on the small screen then sending out plates of food.
“I mean, we’re talking real staffers vs. TV staffers,” says Page with a laugh. “There are those who want to really work and those who want to be on TV. It can be dysfunctional.”
For those who think Pink Teacup isn’t actually a restaurant, Page has a message for you: “Yes, we are a reality show, but we are real.”