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Meet Liza Meli of Barmeli Tapas & Wine Bar

Today we’d like to introduce you to Liza Meli.

Meli, a native Australian with Greek roots was sure the hospitality business was her future when she began working in her uncle’s restaurant as a teenager. She continued working in some of the best Greek-owned Seafood restaurants in Sydney as well as a stint at the Hilton Hotel and part-time as a Latin/ Brazilian Ballroom dancer.

With her parent’s unconditional love & encouragement to “follow your heart & dreams”. In 1993 (at 26), Meli was ready for her own restaurant. She decided to take a world trip, to expand her knowledge in her chosen profession.

When she landed in South Beach, Miami in September 1993, her restaurant dream was put on hold due to her encounter with the great flamenco guitarist, Alex Fox. Life became about travel, dance & music. Thanks to her dancing & entertainment experience, Meli (aka Liza Luna) became Fox’s agent/concert producer/dancer/wife. A performance for President Clinton in 1998 was the ultimate high.

In 2000, while touring in the South of France, came the life-changing news of her first child Alexia. Anthony came soon after. Travelling took its toll on the growing family. With an amicable separation in 2002, Meli was able to pursue her true passion – food & wine.

The first Ouzo’s Greek Taverna was created in North Beach with her brother Johnny in 2002 with much success. Other restaurants are Ouzo’s Mediterranean Bistro in South Beach, Sunset Harbor (2007).

Anise Mediterranean Taverna located on the charming Miami River from 2008 -2012.. BarMeli Tapas & Wine bar was created in January 2014 on the up & coming 79th causeway. Due to its popularity and loyal following, another move was inevitable for a larger space, adequate parking and a full kitchen on the Biscayne corridor.

BarMeli69 Greek Bistro & Wine Bar is a fun, social, local friendly eatery. It has a warm, unpretentious ambiance where customers feel like they are dining at Meli’s home. You will find her there nightly to welcome you with open arms, a smile and a story or two.

Bar Noir is her new project, which just opened December 13, 2017. One of Miami’s first “Natural” wine bars…

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
ohhhh sooooooo many to explain…

No.1 – struggle : finding the right team., the right staff with strong work ethics & passion… We are finally in a good place at Barmeli69 but I had to kiss many frogs to get there..
No. 2 – Being a woman in this mostly male profession (for obvious reasons).
No. 3 –  Investment lost due to Miami construction!!! investing every penny, the 2nd mortgage on the house, lose the home, loans from sharks (because banks do not finance restaurants). And then major construction at your front door. No compensation, no apologies. Everything lost overnight.
No. 4. – High RENTS ..payroll.. expenses in general. Making ends meet. applying for a loan to pay off another loan.
No.5 – Personal Relationships. Impossible. You are married to the business.
No. 6 – Single mother of 2 … difficult, sad and often I feel guilty that I am not the normal soccer mom.

In the end, I feel an accomplishment & satisfaction that the sacrifices & struggles were part of the adventure… I still love every minute of it.

Barmeli tapas & wine Bar – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Barmeli69 has become a very local hang out, where many solo diners come and feel very comfortable to dine alone, as do families, couples etc.. It is a place for all to enjoy.

Our specialty is very fresh, healthy (the 4 ingredient rule) Mediterranean cuisine. Wine list is focused on natural, biodynamic from small family wineries. I am physically there.. Every night. I run the whole operation. The office, marketing, cooking, No managers. Of course, there is a very professional trusting team by my side. But it is often exhausting to be a “control freak”

I have a relationship with my customers.There is a loyalty & understanding that it is pleasure first, business second. I work & treat my team as a family… A have a very low employee turnover.. we are all happy.. every day 🙂

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success for me is simple. Chasing your dream and then achieving it by creating it & never giving in! no matter what the obstacles. and no matter what the odds. No matter what the sacrifice. And after all the struggles, you sit back, a glass of wine, stare at the stars and say “I did it”.

Also providing jobs & they then become your new family. We eat family meals together daily. (that I cook) It’s a way to connect and show appreciation. Because you cannot lead without followers. “IT IS ALWAYS A TEAM EFFORT”.

And then there is the customer satisfaction.. Where clients spend their most special occasions at your place because they trust you. Those moments of pure belly laughter with strangers that become new friends because of that “je ne sais quoi” we have in common…

If you love what you are doing, you are successful.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 6927 Biscayne Blvd
    Miami, FL 33138
  • Website: www.barmeli.com
  • Phone: 3057545558
  • Email: barmelimiami@gmail.com


Image Credit:

James Woodley Photography

Getting in touch: VoyageMIA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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