Della Heiman graduated Harvard Business School with a plan: move to Miami and start her own restaurant. Her market research showed the city was primed for the meny of fresh, healthy food bowls she had in mind. But more importantly, she says, the fell in love with the place.
“More than anything else, it was the people,” Heiman recalls. On regular family visits starting in 2012, she says, she was inspired by the people of Miami and the culinary landscape that they were building. “It was a community that I was excited to become a part of, and it’s even better than what I originally thought,” she says.
But when she started looking for a piece of Miami to call her own, Heiman hit a wall: Miami’s high real estate prices didn’t mesh with her fast-casual business plan. She knew many other would-be restauranteurs faced the same obstacle. That’s when the idea for the Wynwood Yard was born.
Set on an open-air lot near Wynwood’s O Cinema, the Wynwood Yard is home to Heiman’s Della Test Kitchen along with a rotating series of restaurant concepts, all of whom share the burden of land costs. Heiman describes it as a mash-up of two contemporary culinary trends: food truck roundups, which have been popular foodie hubs in South Florida for years; and culinary incubators, where investors give restaurant entrepreneurs the space and capital to test their concepts for limited runs.
“We wanted to combine those visions to create a space where you can take the walking restaurant, or food trucks, into an incubation space, and let these entrepreneurs work together and support each other in their endeavors,” Heiman explains.
The Wynwood Yard concept solved Heiman’s rent woes, but it also opened up a world of possibilities. South Florida’s up-and-coming restauranteurs have brought everything from pizza to sushi to Korean dishes to the Yard. Right now, the space hosts MYUMI, which Heiman notes is “the only omakase food truck in the country.” Its most recent addition is a shaved ice joint called Mr. Bing. Other current collaborators include veteran Miami food truck Dim Ssam a Go Go, which recently launched a new chicken-based menu at its Wynwood Yard site; Ash by Stanzione, an offshoot of popular Brickell restaurant Stanzione; and the Mortar and Pistil bar, which uses herbs from Wynwood Yard’s on-site garden in its cocktails.
And those are just the culinary collaborations. As the Yard evolved, it began reaching out to local entrepreneurs of all sorts, from the architects behind Wyn-Box, a prefab home constructed inside a shipping container, to yoga and pilates instructors, garden experts, and musicians. This month alone, the Yard had a dog-friendly happy hour, an educational seminar on nutrition, and a Battle Balls tournament. (Yes, that’s the sport where you run around wearing a giant inflatable plastic sphere.) Long story short: it’s a multifaceted calendar, all year round.
In coming months, Heiman says she hopes the Yard can host more daytime activities, in an attempt to turn the space into a coworking hub. (There’s already free wi-fi available and plenty of standing desks at the bar.) And in the meantime, Heiman says, she’s keeping an open mind.
“Sometimes we throw an idea out there and we think people are going to show up and they don’t at all, and sometimes we do something we think might be a flop and people love it,” Heiman laughs. “It’s all about testing it out and seeing what resonates.”
56 NW 29th St, Miami, FL 33127