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Meet Anastasia Koutsioukis and Ahmet Erkaya of Mandolin Aegean Bistro in Design District

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anastasia Koutsioukis and Ahmet Erkaya.

Anastasia and Ahmet, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
In late 2009, we opened the doors at Mandolin Aegean Bistro. We restored a 1940’s house here in Buena Vista, a residential neighborhood adjacent to the Design District. We only had 30 seats then and never expected to make it this far or better yet we didn’t know what to expect at all. Instead, we slowly grew and became an anchor in the neighborhood and built a community that goes beyond our city. Mandolin is our love story on so many levels. It’s not only about us, but our love of the Aegean, where the Greek islands meet the Turkish coast – our intertwined cultures and most of all, our love for our adopted city, our home, Miami. In the past ten years we have grown to become a 150 seat internationally known establishment, with an outdoor courtyard, a back house indoor seating and on-site bakery, a kitchen garden growing our own herbs, and more recently an expanded secret garden for private parties and dining al-fresco serving our signature dishes from Greece and Turkey.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There are always challenges in business whether big or small, its how you deal with it that determines success. The key to dealing with these challenges is staying honest and true to your values, returning back to the core of why you started and also being adaptable and being open to change. A business is a living organism, its always evolving organically and you have to evolve with it.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Mandolin is a home away from home for many people. There is a special spirit that lives in the space and even after a decade that soulful feeling still remains, I think that is the secret to our success. I designed this space so that you can feel the personal decor, details and love that was put into it. When you walk passed the blue gate under the bougainvillea you feel as you have been transported to a Greek island you don’t feel as if you’re in Miami, and I believe people enjoy that escapism.

However, we are most proud of the company culture we created. My husband and I are very present in our daily business. We are a true family here at Mandolin, with 130 incredibly hard-working, passionate people that we love and respect. That same love gets transmitted to our customers. The biggest compliment is when someone says we have great team working here because we do! They are the heart and soul of our restaurant. Last but not least, it comes down to great products. The food has to sing. We are very passionate about the food we cook and we only work with local farms, fishmongers, and artisanal products. Aegean cuisine is all about simplicity so the ingredients need to shine to create a memorable meal.

What were you like growing up?
I have always been very creative. I spent my downtime cooking with my mom and grandmother, baking, reading, decorating, writing. I was always very curious. My first interest was in fashion so I moved to New York and tried my hand in many created endeavors in the fashion and beauty industries from styling and later in marketing. In the end, when I moved to Miami ten years ago to open our dream restaurant with Ahmet, I realized I had combined all my career experiences and talents while creating and designing Mandolin. The hospitality industry combines all the different lifestyle elements that I enjoy. I also love people. You cant be in this business if you don’t love people. In addition, traveling has been my biggest source of inspiration. I pick up ideas anywhere I’ve been in the world and that gives you a more global perspective on things.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 4312 NE 2nd Ave
    Miami, FL 33137
  • Website: http://www.mandolinmiami.com/
  • Phone: (305) 749-9140
  • Email: reservations@mandolinmiami.com
  • Instagram: mandolinmiami
  • Facebook: Mandolin Aegean Bistro

Image Credit:
Tato Gomez

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