Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You operates restaurants across Illinois and also has a strong presence in Minnesota and the Washington, D.C. metro area, among other select markets. On Nov. 2, the flourishing restaurant group opened its first South Florida restaurant, Aba, which debuted at Miami’s Bal Harbour Shops. This marks the concept’s third location following Chicago and Austin.
“We love the Miami market,” Marc Jacobs, executive partner and divisional president of Lettuce Entertain You said. “Between the growing culinary and dining scenes, we were thrilled to join the Bal Harbour community.”
Jacobs added that the company will continue growing the brand and is always on the lookout for new and exciting locations.
Aba, which means “father” in Hebrew, was created by Jacobs and “Top Chef” alum CJ Jacobson. Its Mediterranean-influenced menu features dishes and flavors from Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, and Greece.
Menu highlights include a carrot and sunflower dip; the everything Jerusalem bagel, which is served with smoked salmon spread, hamachi and charred avocado; and a shawarma-spiced skirt steak with black garlic mushroom jus.
Aba’s wine list features selections from across the Mediterranean and Southern California, choosing to highlight producers that utilize sustainable, organic and/or biodynamic growing practices. Cocktails and zero-proof drinks feature local ingredients and fresh flavors like aloe and watermelon.
The Miami location can accommodate 250 diners in its dining room and patio. The restaurant design is meant to evoke the Mediterranean coast during summertime, complete with earth tones and natural elements. Olive trees anchor the space and are joined by climbing ivy, hanging plants and potted trees, alongside Parisian street lamps and gold Moroccan light fixtures. The patio is accessed through the dining room, and there’s also a second-floor mezzanine, with an intimate bar, and additional outdoor seating.
Aba is not the only Lettuce concept coming to Florida, shared R.J. Melman, president of Lettuce Entertain You. “We will be opening RPM Italian in West Palm Beach at Phillips Point at the end of 2023, as well as bringing Summer House on the Lake to Disney Springs in Orlando in 2023.”
Melman hints that the group has more opportunities on the horizon in Chicago and other markets, too.
For starters, they’re opening a new concept in Chicago’s Fulton Market and will serve as the official food and beverage partner at the new St. Regis Hotel, which is slated to open in the spring of 2023. The group will operate two restaurants there — one with Chef Hisanobu Osaka and one with Chef Evan Funke.
“We are also working in collaboration with Tao Group Hospitality on a private social club in downtown Chicago that will focus on curated dining experiences for its members,” Melman said. “Lettuce is always on the lookout for additional growth opportunities in markets outside of Chicago as well, including Texas, Nashville, Florida and Las Vegas.”