Mansion Global Major Food Group Co-Founder Dishes on Branded Miami Residences

May 2023

First came Carbone, Dirty French, Torrisi and a string of other wildly successful restaurants. Now, the hospitality brand Major Food Group, which has more than 40 eateries globally with a prominent presence in Miami and New York, is expanding its footprint to include residential living.

In a collaboration with real estate developers Terra, behind the Renzo Piano-designed development Eighty Seven Park, and One Thousand Group, of Zaha Hadid’s One Thousand Museum (both in Miami), the company recently announced its first real estate venture, Villa Miami.

Located on the waterfront in the city’s Edgewater neighborhood, the project is expected to debut sometime in 2025, according to Jeff Zalaznick, who cofounded Major Food Group with Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone. The building will comprise 60 residences and have 58 stories with a height of 650 feet. Featuring a copper-color exoskeletal facade, it will have 360-degree views of Biscayne Bay and also have a dock. British designer Vicky Charles, the former design director at Soho House, will create the interiors.

“Having a positive impact on the way that people live is the next logical step for us in hospitality and something we’ve always wanted to do,” Mr. Zalaznick said. “Taking care of people is what we do when they come to our restaurants, and we want to take care of them from the time they wake up to when they go to sleep.”

Mr. Zalaznick talked to Mansion Global about this milestone step for his company, how the project stands out amid the sea of developments in Miami and why convenience is the ultimate luxury.

MG: Can you share key features of Villa Miami?

JZ: The building is expansive in size but only has 60 residences so it’s a very boutique style, where owners will have privacy and space. The name Villa is inspired by the great villas of Italy, and we intend for it to have a European sensibility.

Most of the residences take up an entire floor and have great views of the city and ocean. Given our backgrounds, we’re paying a lot of attention to the culinary side with our own restaurant that will have two floors and bayfront dining. We’re planning on serving an Italian coastal menu with a restaurant, bar and terrace on one level.

The spa will also be a standout. It will be a generously sized space and focus on recovery. Major Food Group represents a work-hard, play-hard lifestyle—you eat, drink and indulge, but you bounce back in the spa. We are planning for it to have hot and cold plunge pools, thermal pools like you find in Italy, red-light therapy and infrared saunas. We will also have an area to get IV drips and a huge gym.

MG: What other amenities will the project offer?

JZ: The building has a helipad on the roof and a dock, so you can land by seaplane on the water or by helicopter. We will also have a big pool, juice bar and coffee lounge. We’re behind all the food and beverage components in the building and will offer residents cooking lessons and the services of an at-home private chef.  

MG: Tell us about Edgewater, the neighborhood where Villa will be located.

JZ: It’s an up-and-coming area that’s slightly north of downtown Miami and bang on the water. You’re near lots of restaurants and shopping and have access to Miami Baywalk, a gorgeous promenade for bikers and walkers that goes along the water through several neighborhoods. This is unique in Miami because so much of the city is not designed to be pedestrian friendly. If I didn’t already have a home in Miami, Edgewater is where I would want to live.

MG: Miami has an abundance of branded real estate projects—how is yours different?

JZ: What’s different is that everything you eat, drink, touch and experience is created by Mario, Rich and me. Major Food Group isn’t just providing a name to these residences—we’re hands-on and meeting with the architects and designers and putting our touch on every bit from the doorknobs on the entrances to the uniforms of the staff.

MG: Can you talk about the design elements of the development? What will the public spaces and residences be like?

JZ: Design is something that the three of love and value in anything we create. We’re hammering out the specifics, but for now, we know that natural light and open layouts are key elements. At the same time, we want the public spaces to feel very much like you’re at home.

And Mario is designing the kitchens in the residences. They’re going to have custom Italian cabinets, dual convection and steam ovens and CornuFe dual-fuel ranges and professional-grade pasta cookers.

MG: Can you talk about the composition of home buyers in Miami and where they are coming from today, both internationally and domestically?

JZ: The appeal of Miami’s real estate market continues to draw in a broad spectrum of buyers, ranging from technology and finance executives and empty nesters, to families that have embraced the flexibility of remote work or early retirement.  This trend is not exclusive to a particular region within North America and is being observed across the country – coast to coast.  In addition to Europeans, we are observing a significant comeback from Latin American buyers from countries like Brazil, Colombia and Argentina.”

Overall, I would say that there is a new buyer demographic in Miami’s luxury condo market- people with discerning tastes who now, for the first time ever, look at Miami as a world-class city where they can actually reside full time. 

MG: What are the top trends in dining today, and how have they evolved since the pandemic started?

JZ: People want to be taken care of, have an incredible night out and not be unnecessarily challenged, which diners had a much higher tolerance for before 2020. And another post-pandemic trend that is still strong: many other spots called it quits early, reducing hours. People are writing articles about how “5 p.m. is the new 8 p.m.” We at MFG decided to open even later and worked on enhancing our bar and lounge spaces so that people would want to make their evenings even longer.

MG: How do you define luxury?

JZ: Convenience with the highest level of quality. If everything you touch is top of the line and easy to access, you’re living a luxurious life. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity

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