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Javier Angeles-Beron was in South Beach when I reached him by phone yesterday evening, and he wasn’t trying to shout over some thumping DJ while dodging bronzed models at an oversexed, smoked-filled nightclub. He was prepping for the opening of a new Latin-Asian restaurant in the Z Ocean Hotel, where he had just been named executive chef.
Angeles-Beron headed South after two recent projects and/or proposals went sour: In January, the chef closed Aroma, his remote chifa outpost in Olney, and more recently, he couldn’t come to terms with Latin Concepts about moving Aroma into the former Ceviche space in Silver Spring. The latter restaurant, where Angeles-Beron once served as chef, has finally closed down after weeks of rumors.
“It was too much work,” Angeles-Beron says about Aroma in Olney. “I was working seven days a week to make the place happen…It was a lot of effort to keep it open.” He says he was forced to sink more and more of his own money into the restaurant; he even turned to his father for a cash infusion.
It was a relatively easy decision, he says, to take the offer in South Beach. The restaurant market, he says, is still good in Miami, where tourists continue to comb the beach, recession or not.
The Z Ocean restaurant hasn’t officially opened yet. The owners, which include a Redskins player (Angeles-Beron couldn’t remember his name), are overhauling the previous restaurant, Proof, and installing a whole new Latin-Asian concept. Chifa dishes will be on the menu as well as Asian-spiced ceviches. The restaurant’s new name has not been revealed but should be soon. The place opens next week with Angeles-Beron at the helm.
Meanwhile, Latin Concept’s founder Mauricio Fraga-Rosenfeld called from Ecuador to confirm that Ceviche has indeed closed, officially putting an end to that once semi-proud Peruvian concept. “We are good for small urban places,” Fraga-Rosenfeld says. “Our concept does not work in malls.”
The Ceviche in Silver Spring was located on the second level of the downtown shopping district. Latin Concepts had tried to turn the place into an American tavern, much like it did with the Ceviche outlet in Glover Park. The group even talked with Angeles-Beron about his Aroma concept (although Fraga-Rosenfeld describes the discussions as “not serious”). But in the end, Fraga-Rosenfeld decided to turn the property back over to the landlord.
It would take “too much energy for the return you’d get from the place,” Fraga-Rosenfeld says.
Which is why Fraga-Rosenfeld is in Ecuador. He’s focusing on his plan to open bars and clubs in the country.