Miami Life Insider’s Guide: Restaurants, Bal Harbour, Ultimate Houseboat

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Everyone complains that the restaurants in Miami Beach are so expensive. That’s true for many restaurants, but there is one gem that I must share with you. This is going to be a very unusual request about another restaurant. I would like as many women and men as possible to have dinner at Call Me Gaby (Miami) in the next week. Where do the ladies who lunch hang out? Bal Harbour. Ever thought about a houseboat as a home? Well check out this one. We have another update on the Renewal Summit, May 13 in NYC. I’ll be there!

The Miami Restaurant You Were Looking For

Everyone complains that the restaurants in Miami Beach are so expensive. That’s true for many restaurants, but there is one gem that I must share with you. Cafe Bernie’s, located in an iconic building on Millionaire’s Row, at 5600 Collins Avenue, is not only affordable but it has a sensational view of The Indian Creek Waterway. There is nothing like sipping a glass of wine or coffee while watching the boats go by. It’s magical to have a ringside seat to the beautiful waves created by the smallest of boats, to large, luxury yachts that cruise by with the happiest of people onboard. There you are sitting at Cafe Bernie’s enjoying it all, and it didn’t cost you a fortune to experience it.

The Seafood Chowder soup special is absolutely delicious. It’s a meal in itself. I made the mistake of ordering that and the avocado tostados. I had to take half of it home but it was a real treat for two meals. Everything on the menu has been created by South Florida Chef Bernie Matz so expect new and different choices.

The restaurant is not fancy but it’s a slice of paradise that only Miami can offer.  Yes, there is a full bar with craft cocktails. If you get lucky, Executive Chef Bernie and his wife, Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez might also be on the premises to say hello.

Join me in New York City for a fabulous all-day event of panels, speakers, exhibitors, and connecting with other fab Tomatoes. I love this panel on happiness. GET THE DETAILS.

 “Call Me Gaby” Needs Some Love

This is going to be a very unusual request that I‘m making from everyone who reads Miami Life. I would like as many women and men as possible to have dinner at “Call Me Gaby,” 22 Washington Ave, in Miami Beach, over the next few weeks. The Italian restaurant was the scene of a fatal car accident, Thursday, February 24th, when an elderly woman, who tried to parallel park her Bentley, plowed into the patrons sitting in the garden restaurant. She claims that she accidentally stepped too hard on the accelerator as she backed up. It all sounds suspicious because this rarely happens. It’s still being investigated.

Dr. Gary Prince

Dr. Gary Prince, 67, who was a New York City native and well-known on the local Miami basketball scene, was killed. A three year old and a man in his 50s were then trapped underneath the car. Restaurant employees and customers worked diligently together to lift the car and pull them out. Six other people were hurt in the accident as well and were treated at the hospital. He was a chiropractor who had worked with a few New York Knicks players and had also coached a street basketball team and owned a Gold’s Gym in Times Square. He had been living in Florida for the past few years after leaving the city. This was such a tragedy. His friends and relatives are in shock.

“Call Me Gaby” has remained closed ‘out of respect’ for the victims and their families. A sign posted outside the restaurant said, “All of us at ‘Call Me Gaby’ are deeply saddened and shocked by last night’s tragic event. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected and to their families and loved ones.”

I live two blocks away from “Call Me Gaby.” Like most other restaurants they struggled through Covid to stay alive.  Now just when business was picking up, this tragic event took place. Eliot and I plan to frequent the restaurant to give them as much support as possible. Please help too.

Dress For Bal Harbour

If you ever wanted to see where “the ladies who lunch”hang out in Miami, let me introduce you to the Bal Harbour Shops, an open-air shopping mall just a few miles north of South Beach. It’s one of the most luxurious shopping areas in the country. It’s so fancy, that most people get dressed up to go shopping there. That seems so funny to say, but it’s true. It’s the ultimate place to be seen and show off.

My husband, Eliot Hess who took all of these photos,  and I were there last weekend to meet our friend, who is also a famous book author.  Neil Plakcy has written 50 books and it’s always fascinating to spend time with him because he is filled with so many current stories about the book business. We met at Le Zoo for lunch (the other popular restaurants are Carpaccio and Makoto) and enjoyed our conversations while watching the folks around us flashing  the latest styles in fashion. While the rest of the world was freezing, we enjoyed sitting outside in 80 degree weather, sipping Margaritas.

Just in case you are interested here is the lineup of shops not to be missed.

The anchor stores are Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. Notable other retailers include Salvatore FerragamoAlexander McQueenAudemars PiguetBalenciagaBalmainBottega Veneta, BrioniBvlgariChanelChloeChopardDolce & GabbanaErmenegildo ZegnaEscadaFendiGiorgio ArmaniGoyardGucciHarry WinstonMissoniMiu MiuPradaSaint LaurentStella McCartneyTod’sVan Cleef & Arpels, and Versace.

What Floats Your Boat? 

It’s definitely true. Miami is the playground for the rich and famous. A classic example is the modern day houseboat that I can see from my condo. When I first saw this contemporary floating structure, I thought “someone has a wild imagination.” Now it makes total sense to me. If you truly love living on the water, and you have $5.5 million to spend on extravagance, you should take a closer look at the Arkup floating homes. Your friends may not say it out loud, but they will envy you, especially after Covid. This is one of the few places on earth where you can isolate yourself, yet in the midst of everything. You can check it all out here.

Let me tell you what I know and what I referenced from the company’s literature. The Arkup, as it’s officially called, is a 75 ft long, two-story ultra-luxury houseboat comprising 4,350 sq ft of floorspace. It was designed by Dutch architecture firm Waterstudio.NL and the model pictured here was furnished by Brazil’s Artefacto.  That’s one of the most famous home furnishing chain in Miami. The most interesting feature of the floating home is its hydraulic stilts. These can be deployed in a depth of 20 ft to lift and stabilize the boat above the water line to avoid waves and reduce hull maintenance. The firm also claims the houseboat is rated to withstand Category 4 Hurricane winds of up to 155 mph. Yikes, that’s a lot of wind.

There’s a lot of other tech features: a 36 kW solar panel array and up to 1,000 kWh battery bank that Arkup says is sufficient to power it off-the-grid. Rainwater is collected from the roof and purified for drinking, and a bunch of communication systems are used for the internet, TV and radio. The home is propelled by a pair of 100 kW electric azimuth thrusters, allowing it to reach 7 knots. The Arkup is fronted by a slide-out deck area. The floating home has an open-plan ground floor layout with lounge, dining area, kitchen, and a bathroom. Upstairs, there are a total of four bedrooms, each with an en-suite bathroom. You have to admit, the Arkup could possibly be the future for many first or second homes.



  • As Co-Founder and President of HWH PR, Lois Whitman-Hess has been actively involved in public relations for a vast array of business sectors including technology, Internet-based companies, entertainment, law, publishing, fashion, beauty and art. For the last eight years, Lois has authored a daily blog called “Digidame.” It mostly covers her personal journeys as well as tech innovations, art, travel, and entertainment. In addition, Lois co-hosts a weekly podcast called “Lying on the Beach” with TV personality Steve Greenberg who is a contributor on NBC's Today Show. They interview luminaries who discuss their expertise and views on current events.

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