The official address is 180 Crandon Blvd. on Key Biscayne, but that doesn’t begin to tell the story of what’s in this little mall called Arcade. Of course, other malls on the island have multiple dining establishments, such as The Square and Galleria, both in Crandon.
What makes the Arcade unique, however, is the sheer number of restaurants in this plaza, Key Biscayne’s only true mall, one that you can easily miss if you drive too fast and blink.
The only place you see from the street is D’Lite Bistro and Bakery, with signage and a cozy terrazita, where you can enjoy healthier cooking outdoors. Alessandra Zurek opened D’Lite with the vision of being a place where friends, family and locals call home.
“Our main ingredient is love, the food is prepared on site with every order. We are not a fast food restaurant,” Zurek recently told Islander News.
So what else is in the Arcade? And how long have they been there?
Let’s see… once parked, in addition to D’Lite, you have the option of enjoying fine Italian or Lebanese cuisine, as well as Argentinian empanadas, pizzas and a national sandwich shop.
Of the 12 rented sites, six are restaurants – and even more considering that Las Empanadas has grown and now occupies several bays.
If it were up to Federico Elkarout, owner, operator and chef of Pita Pockets, there would be even more. “I think we could become Key Biscayne’s food court,” he said, noting that he suggested the owner search for a restaurant whenever space becomes available.
“We would all benefit from that,” says Elkarout, who saw the value in restaurant cooperation while working in Detroit’s Greek Quarter. “They succeeded because they worked together.”
Cooperation is already present in many restaurateurs. Cesar Andrade, owner of Domino’s, which has operated on the Key since 1991, recently told Islander News that he appreciates the relationships he has established on the island. “The personal relationship you develop with our customers; many of them become friends. We are grateful to have succeeded in this competitive business.
Andrade went to FIU on a tennis scholarship and after graduation he went to work with the Domino’s company, eventually working his way up to Senior Area Supervisor for South Florida and Porto. Rico.
“When the opportunity arose to open Key Biscayne, I jumped on it. It was 1991,” said Andrade, who at one time owned the Subway franchise in the Arcade.
Next to Domino’s is La Scala restaurant, which opened in 2017 and is owned by Chandra de Silva. This is her second trip to the Arcade, having previously owned the Seafood Depot. “We were there when it opened, along with Dominos and others,” said de Silva, who is originally from Sri Lanka and has lived in Key Biscayne since 1980.
“We are all friends and we help each other. It creates a pleasant environment where we can all work together,” he said.
The Arcade is now also home to expanding business La Empanadas, which opened its first location in 2019 and has now opened two additional stores, in Downtown Miami and Aventura. But the heart of the business – and all of the empanada production – remains at the Arcade site.
Mariana Schroh opened La Empanadas with her husband, Santiago Piñera, after selling their food business in Argentina and moving to Key Biscayne in search of a better quality of life.
In a 2019 interview, Schroh told Islander News that the idea to open La Empanadas Key Biscayne came about when he got together with some friends. “We started thinking about how nice it would be to enjoy delicious homemade empanadas, but we couldn’t think of an alternative.
“Building on our more than 18 years of experience in the culinary industry, the Key Biscayne concept of La Empanada was born,” said Schroh.
So if you’re looking for that hidden foodie oasis, make sure you don’t pass by the Arcade.
If you are going to
To reach the Arcade restaurants, you can call
D’Lite Bistro & Bakery – (305) 882-9284 – open for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Dominos – (305) 361-0000 – open for lunch and dinner
La Empanadas – (305) 699-0663 – open all day
La Scala – (786) 773-3633 – open for dinner
Pita Pockets – (786) 762-2561 – open for lunch and dinner
Subway – (305) 361-3859 – open for breakfast, lunch and dinner