August has proved to be a cruel month for celebrity driven restaurants, at least in South Florida. Emeril Lagasse closed his Emeril’s Miami Beach restaurant at the Loew’s hotel on South Beach on August 7th. Norman’s 180, which opened last summer in Coral Gables as a new concept from Norman Van Aken, closed the following Sunday, on August 14th. Van Aken had ended his association with restaurant in January.
Emeril’s Miami Beach opened in November of 2003. According to a release from Emeril’s Homebase, the company’s corporate office, the decision to close, first announced in June, was made mutually with the Loews corporation, which had planned to remodel the restaurant’s space. It closes just short of its eighth anniversary.
Coincidentally, Van Aken’s restaurant, Norman’s, at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes in Orlando, celebrated its eighth anniversary just last weekend. Lagasse has 12 restaurants in four cities, including Emeril’s Orlando at CityWalk and Emeril’s Tchoup Chop at Loews Royal Pacific resort, also at Universal. His company is based in New Orleans.
The Orlando restaurant is now Van Aken’s sole property. The James Beard Foundation award winner and founder of New World cuisine also had a Key West restaurant close last year. Last month, he was named executive chef at Miami Culinary Institute, where he is expected to open a new restaurant.
Brandon Benack, who had been director of culinary operations for both Norman’s 180 and the Orlando restaurant, has left the company. Tim Doolittle, chef from Emeril’s Miami Beach, will relocate to one of Lagasse’s Las Vegas properties.