Opening a new restaurant in the middle of a pandemic is not for the faint of heart.
But despite the uncertainty, opening proved to be a good idea for the Happy Corner Hospitality Group and owner Tessa Levy, who opened Motek, a kosher-style Israeli-Mediterranean restaurant in Miami’s historic Seybold building in the summer of 2020. The start was rough. The location was somewhat hidden, and indoor dining was closed, so the original Motek — the word means “sweetheart” in Hebrew — had to start with a delivery-only model.
Gradually, the restaurant was able to open and thrive.
The experiment went so well, the company has opened a second restaurant in Aventura. Located on the lower level of the Aventura Mall, next to the (extremely busy) Apple store, the northernmost Motek seats 155, with indoor seating plus an outdoor patio for those who prefer a breeze with their meals. The menu is the same as the menu at the original restaurant, with small and large plates, hummus, sandwiches, burgers, labneh and bowls. The restaurant also serves desserts, smoothies and coffee and tea.
Levy said Aventura was attractive as a site because they noticed the downtown restaurant was getting a lot of delivery orders from the area. The original plan was to open a second location in Miami Beach, but delays led to the Aventura site opening first. Expect to see a third opening soon at 2701 Collins Ave. in Miami Beach.
“We feel truly blessed to open our second restaurant,” Levy said in an email. “Right now we are seeing what seems to be the end of the global pandemic, the light at the end of the covid tunnel, and we find that people are actually celebrating going out more after being holed up for so long. I think it is a great time for restaurants to be opening now and celebrating that life goes on.”