Steven Perricone knew when the time was right to move into Brickell. He also knew when it was time to move out.
Perricone’s Marketplace & Café, a fixture in Miami’s financial district since 1996, will close in mid-January and open in a new location in the spring, Perricone said.
Surrounded every day by more high-rises, Perricone’s namesake restaurant next to a leisurely park feels like an anachronism from a former Miami, Little Havana’s sleepy eastern cousin.
Call it the real-life “Up” house, eyed hungrily by developers.
“It’s a very different place than it was  years ago when I bought it,” Perricone said. “There was nothing here. But I have always had an affinity for emerging areas.”
But Perricone wasn’t priced out of the neighborhood.
He leased the former Mediterranean-style home in 1994 at 15 SE 10th St. and turned it into a casual Italian-inspired restaurant that remains a local favorite for date nights and the occasional celebrity stop over. He purchased it three years later for $775,000.
Last year, he sold the 11,000-square-foot lot for $16.18 million to citizenM hotels, according to property records.
“I had always hoped the area would develop around me. Now look at the growth of Brickell.” he said. “It helps to be able to control your own destiny as a neighborhood gentrifies around you.”
At 64, Perricone could simply retire. Instead, he’s doubling down.
He purchased a 5,400-square-foot building for the new Perricone’s at 1700 SW Third Ave., less than a half mile southwest, near the Roads. That restaurant will have next-door parking, a 2,600 square-foot dining room, outdoor tables and a specialty market like the one that made his Brickell spot unique.
The new restaurant will open in late March, he said. Perricone’s will continue catering and delivering through Uber Eats and Postmates while the new spot is built.
Perricone trades on his ability to recognize trending neighborhoods.
A self-made man, he bought and sold bars in Manhattan’s Chelsea and in the Hamptons before those real estate booms. And he used the profits to spot real estate in South Florida, where he was also a partner with James Beard award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein in her now-defunct MiMo restaurant.
His mistake there? He never purchased the land and Cena by Michy closed after rents went up. It was one of Perricone’s few misses.
“I’ve always tried to own my own locations,” he said.
He remains a partner in Little River’s Sullivan Street Bakery, the Miami outpost of James Beard award-winning baker Jim Lahey’s factory, which is providing fresh-baked Italian-style bread to some of Miami’s best restaurants, including Perricone’s.
“I’m not ready to retire and I love what I do,” Perricone said. “And I think I’ve found the perfect spot to continue the legacy.”
This article was written by Carlos Frías, the James Beard award-winning Miami Herald food editor, and published in Miami.com.