Don’t be discouraged if no one comes right away, Harry Coleman’s father told him the day before Empanada Harry’s opened in west Kendall.
Philip Coleman was thinking back to the day he took over Moises Bakery in Miami Beach in 1991. He made $10 on his first day. His business would grow into a landmark Venezuelan bakery in almost 30 years. But he knew how hard, quiet and anxious the first days of a new bakery can be.
And there was no telling how people would respond to the unconventional bakery his son was proposing, in a quiet mall on the edge of the western reaches of Miami-Dade.
Was the idea of selling only empanadas half baked?
“Hispanic culture loves a bakery,” Harry Coleman said. “We’re from Miami, and Miami is a melting pot. We wanted it to be multicultural like Miami.”
On the day the doors opened, Philip Coleman got a frantic, flour-dusted call from his son: “I need you to come right now.”
Philip Coleman arrived to find a line out the door.
“We sold out everything we had that day,” Harry Coleman said. “That’s when I knew.”
The bakery is packaged in a millennial-friendly space he and his wife designed and built themselves between shifts at his father’s bakery: reclaimed wood walls, pop art, black chalkboard to match their uniforms and Harry’s paperboy hat and bright-orange chairs to match his wife Michelle’s bandana and Crocs.
He wanted their basic empanadas to be an honest representation of each country’s. The savory Peruvian empanadas are dusted with powdered sugar the way they are in Peru. The Colombian versions have the yellow crunchy exterior. The Venezuelan empanadas are styled after the ones his grandmother makes. And the Argentine contain the traditional fillings beef and chopped egg.Coleman wants each country’s empanada faithfully represented.
“Miami’s a melting pot and so is our shop. That’s what we wanted to make here,” Michelle said.
“If it’s not right, I’d rather not make it,” Harry added.
Harry Coleman also freestyles. His Cuban Sandwich empanada tastes like a bite of the classic sandwich, with roasted pork, ham, Swiss and pickles. The Korean empanada uses marinated short rib. A Philly cheesesteak empanada uses shaved beef and is shaped like a hoagie. And a vegan empanada made with soy crumbles and dough yellowed with turmeric instead of eggwash had hard-core vegans asking if they’d accidentally sold them ground beef.
Brunch is a fusion of their Latin and American roots. There’s fried chicken croquetas atop a classic waffle with a honey-pepper sauce. Eggs benedict are served over flash-fried arepas instead of English muffins. And Venezuelan cachapas are made with Homestead-farmed corn.
“He’s always coming up with something new, and people are always coming in to ask what he’s going to come up with next,” Philip Coleman said.
On Fridays, you’ll find Philip Coleman there under the guise of helping make dessert — a decadent guava or rum tres leches Harry innovated — but actually wanting to spend time with his son and daughter-in-law. It’s a radically different bakery than the one he started on Miami Beach. But it’s got the same heart.
“A bakery can be a cool place with its own vibe,” Michelle Coleman said. “We want people to have that feeling here.”