Wynwood Walls, the year-old art installation that put top artists’ works on the sides of Miami warehouses, has taken its energy indoors and added a menu, all in time for Art Basel.
Wynwood Kitchen & Bar is a 5,000-square-foot food and art immersion that’s sure to be a hot spot during the the nation’s biggest art fair.
Co-owned by Tony Goldman, godfather of the Wynwood Arts District, and his daughter, Jessica Goldman Srebnick, the 200-seat restaurant showcases the work of street-pop art icon Shepard Fairey, Berlin abstract artist Christian Awe, sculptor David Benjamin Sherry and Goldman Properties executive chef Marco Ferraro.
“It kind of happened when the idea for Wynwood Walls was birthed last year, we were so excited about people’s reactions and the idea of educating people about art,” Goldman Srebnick said. “So taking something that traditionally can be intimidating and … bringing it into an environment where you really want to be, it’s a surprise to people and very unusual.
“We wanted to create the perfect fusion between food and art.”
WKB is just north of her brother’s eponymous Joey’s, a hip spot for casual Italian fare. There’s no sibling rivalry between the restaurants, Goldman Srebnick insists, who made a trip to Joey’s part of the training for her WKB staff.
“My hope is we will complement one another,” she said. “There is no duplication in the menus. You can have a great experience at both.”
Priced from $5 to $24, items on WKB’s brasserie-style menu range from burgers and barbecued pork sandwiches to omelets and clay-pot stews.
“At the end of the day we wanted to make sure it was comfort food and take my fine dining experience and raise the technique level of an American brasserie,” said Ferraro, who also shaped the menu at the Goldmans’ Wish at The Hotel.
The bar, which is wrapped in red, black and gold images in Fairey’s iconic style (he is best known for the Obama “Hope” poster), serves rare beers and original cocktails.
“We helped the artists create artist cocktails named after them,” Goldman Srebnick said. “Once you finish your drink and have a good time, you can go outside and find [works by] the artist that inspired the cocktail.”
They won’t have to look far for Christian Awe after downing his fruit-infused champagne cocktail. His colorful splashes of stencil, ink and paint surround the main dining area, sharing the space with Sherry’s 11-foot, rainbow-hued stick man.
“I made the artwork specifically for the restaurant and wanted to make a big flow of motion where people want to jump into the art,” Awe said.
“So it still has a street art touch, but it has a high-end finish. It’s kind of like looking into clouds and you can start imagining things and capture a nice fusion of things.”
Tony Goldman, who has jumped head-first into the street-art scene, invited the artists to make the restaurant their canvas and create an experience that goes beyond the taste buds.
“To be a good leader you have to have a level of trust with the talented people you bring around you,” his daughter said. “Wynwood Walls introduced my dad deeply into the world of street art, and as a result my dad was very turned on by the whole movement. It has become a very acceptable form of art, now.”
That’s apparent on the patio dining area, where WKB’s exterior is covered in murals by twin Brazilian artists Os Gemeos, the artist Kenny Scharf and the American collaborative Dearraindrop.
Wynwood Doors, yet another component of the Goldmans’ urban art park, will be unveiled during Art Basel weekend. Located just behind Wynwood Walls, warehouse doors are adorned with works by various artists, and when the doors are rolled up, even more artwork is revealed. The urban park (think large tree, small patch of grass and oversized boulders) features an Airstream trailer with its interior decorated by Scharf in florescent glow paint, complete with black light effects (quite possibly simulating a psychedelic trip).
“Everybody that walks into this place is blown away by the visual experience,” Goldman Srebnick said.
That was apparent last weekend at the restaurant’s packed grand opening. Surfside resident and street art enthusiast David Wilson, and his wife, Sarah, stopped by for dinner and found themselves checking out the art, inside and out, after their meal.
“The restaurant had a good energy about it,” Wilson said. “It just felt like a fresh spin for Miami.”
Inside Wynwood Kitchen & Bar. Photo: Tomas Loewy