What started as a search for the perfect space for a culinary concept has developed into so much more for Della Heiman, and luckily, Wynwood as well.
The Ohio native moved to Miami a year ago after graduating from Harvard Business School hoping to develop a restaurant startup that promoted food accessibility. In the midst of searching for prime real estate without crazy contracts, Heiman started learning about culinary incubators, which gives entrepreneurs a support system and launch pad for new concepts.
"I kept asking my friends, 'why hasn't someone done something like this in Miami?'" Heiman said between scheduling inspections and installing security cameras. "[I thought] it would be such a great way to activate a neighborhood and help a lot of entrepreneurs here who probably, like me, have an idea that they're really passionate about and they're ready to hit go but they can't find the right space.'"
The Wynwood Yard was born. The grand opening on Saturday, Nov. 14 will introduce the Wynwood community to a free and creative culinary space.
The four vacant lots have open-aired spaces for cultural programming like yoga and mentoring programs with notable local chefs like Michelle Bernstein of Seagrape, My Ceviche's Samuel Gorenstein and Brad Kilgore of Alter, all located in Miami.
There are also organic gardens created by Muriel Olivares and Tiffany Noe of Little River Cooperative, which will offer gardening classes as well as hands-on cooking demos. Heiman hopes this will allow people to connect with where their food comes from while enjoying nature and great food in the middle of Wynwood.
A major focus of the The Wynwood Yard is to allow consumers to be a part of the startup process.
"We hear a lot about tech startups here," Heiman continued, "and I think people know more about what goes into that but when it comes to the culinary side, I think that most consumers don't get a chance to be a part of the narrative to such a great extent. We're really excited to change that here."
The Wynwood Yard will allow entrepreneurs to "test, iterate, and validate their ideas," as Heiman says, with mentors from Harvard Business School, Emory Law School and Wharton. They'll test their ideas, consumers will taste them and the mentors will provide feedback. After three months, they'll have the potential to expand their businesses as they pitch their concepts to local investors and real estate developers.
Currently, The Wynwood Yard currently has four permanent food trucks on site including Heiman's own Della Test Kitchen with offers plant-based bowls; Arabian Knife, providing middle-eastern cuisine; Myumi, serving omakase sushi; and Vibe 305, operated by the nonprofit Empowered Youth program, with chef mentoring by Brad Kilgore. A fifth concept, an eco-friendly bar called THYME, is managed by Chef Ken Lyon and mixologist Ricardo Rodriguez.
The Wynwood Yard Grand Opening opens early for VIPs at 6:30 p.m on Sat., Nov. 14, at The Wynwood Yard, 70 NW 29th St. in Miami. General admission is at 7:30 p.m. VIP tickets are $43.19. General admission is free. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to TheWynwoodYard.com.