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5 things to know about Miami Spice: 20 years later

5 things to know about Miami Spice: 20 years later

August kicked off Miami Spice, one Miami's favorite foodie traditions. Alumni Steven Haas, Belkys Nerey and Felipe Murcia discuss how it all began.

August 31, 2021 at 3:00pm

When the sun comes out ­— so does the food! August and September are some of Miamians’ favorite months of the year as #MiamiSpice season kicks off with affordable, delicious meals by some of the best Miami chefs at sought-after restaurants across the city.

Foodies nationwide can enjoy three-course meals at top eateries for just $28 during brunch/lunch hours and $42 for dinner ­— a deal we only see twice a year.

Here are five things to know about Miami Spice from FIU alumni Steven Haas, founder and creator of Miami Spice; Belkys Nerey, anchor of Channel 7 News and host of cooking show Bite with Belkys; and Felipe Murcia, General Manager of Fiola.

  1. What was the inspiration behind Miami Spice?

Haas: It was created during a terrible time in our nation and for our economy — 2001, right after 9/11. I had to do something to help our restaurants recover, so I literally created Miami Spice. It was created just a few months after 9/11, and we were just completely desperate to get our numbers up. The first year I had 54 high-end restaurants onboard ­— and it was a huge success. In 2019, we had 264 restaurants, and this year, we have 280 restaurants signed up.

  1. What does Miami Spice do for restaurants? How does it help?

Murcia: Since I came to Miami in 2003, Miami Spice has been a bridge for us and our guests during the low seasons of the industry – August and September. It’s a great way to get locals and tourists involved with restaurants that they may not be able to enjoy in their daily lives. The program attracts new customers throughout the year, helps showcase our restaurant and customer service, and ultimately helps our local economy.

  1. How do you choose where to go during Miami Spice?

Nerey: I think it all depends on the individual. The Miami Spice website does a great job of organizing the restaurants by neighborhood or cuisine, but you can also start by checking out a trendy restaurant you’ve been looking at on Instagram that maybe you couldn’t afford before Miami Spice. That’s how I would do it!

  1. What are some other programs that have resulted from Miami Spice?

Haas: Miami Spice has expanded into different types of great programming, like Miami Spa, which provides exciting deals on the most popular spa treatments across the city. Other cities have also tried to create their own version of Miami Spice, but nothing compares to what we have in Miami, and it's all thanks to the work that the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau has done.

  1. How do restaurants pick what goes on the Miami Spice menu?

Murcia: We get our staff together to brainstorm the different menu items for Miami Spice. We think about menu items that everyone likes, and we also increase the number of items on the menu from a minimum of three to five, so that we can include different dishes for everyone to enjoy, while also promoting our most provocative dishes. Throughout the Miami Spice program, we also change the menu by switching dishes around for our regulars to enjoy!

Check out the full Miami Spice Cafecito Chat by visiting the FIU Engagement Facebook page, and make sure to visit your favorite Miami Spice restaurant by checking out the options here