Not long after the construction of the 395, one of Miami’s most historically vibrant neighborhoods stood all but forgotten. Overtown has been seen by many as a transitional space, connecting two sides of our city’s corridor. Most locals don’t even venture to explore the area let alone its powerful cultural past. Recently however, owed to the general growth across the city, Overtown is finally being heard among the bustle. With new projects, businesses, and movements finding a home in the rooted community and bringing it back the life it always deserved.
Among the new generation of believers and hustlers are Akino West and Jamila Ross, the warm duo behind the even friendlier The Copper Door B&B. With a strong background in the restaurant and hospitality industry, as well as nearly two decades in Miami combined, the two have managed to create a place so welcoming that you wouldn’t believe they’ve been open for less than four months. Reservations poured in almost immediately. The combination of impeccable dishes, timeless decor and affordable prices made this bed and breakfast an instant success. With his artistic chops in the kitchen (Noma, Ghee, Michael’s Genuine) and her eye for concepts, The Copper Door B&B became a reality.
From the very beginning, it seemed like the stars were aligned for The Copper Door. What was supposed to be a walk-through for an eatery concept in Little Havana turned into the discovery they were looking for. After hearing their vision for a modern bed and breakfast, The Barlington Group showed them the property and it all fell into place. There was no hesitation on the redeveloping neighborhood or an ounce of desire for a trendier area. They wanted something unique and filled with character, so they felt right at home.
Built in the 40s, the location is a perfect spot for a bed and breakfast. The rooms are intimate, the vestibule is welcoming, and the kitchen is just the right size for a hearty morning menu. Two weeks before launching, The Copper Door opened up reservations and within minutes they had their first bite. Their rooms have been consistently filled since then, following in the footsteps of the building’s past. In fact, the hotel that The Copper Door is now inhabiting was one of the very first interracial spaces in that area. It welcomed both black and white patrons in a time when Overtown was known as “Color Town” and integration was a northern concept.
For decades the hotel lived, run by the same Robin Hood types who are still asked for years after their passings. Built on black entrepreneurship, their legacy lives on at The Copper Door today where the door is always open for any friend, neighbor, or lodger. Millennal travelers looking for an immersive experience connect with older families from all over searching for the quieter side to Miami. Preserving the kindness of their predecessors, Akino and Jamila have built a concept on comfort, stellar food, and a good story.
On the subject of food, the two culinary enthusiasts rarely have a set menu. Lodgers wake up to dishes and inspirations invented just the night before. The surprise in all of this isn’t the treasure in the heart of Overtown, it’s the high end culinary and organic experience at a B&B. And it’s not your average soul food either. Influences from the Mediterranean to Asia and beyond are obvious, with flavorful risks in every bite. The food program is so popular with guests that the pair have their sights on transforming the neighboring corner store into a cafe.
The Copper Door B&B offers 22 themed rooms, a communal space, and a breakfast anyone would stay the night for. The space is diverse and malleable, boasting something for everyone who visits. Take a break from the bougie South Beach staycations and let the mix and match antique furniture transport you to Miami’s yesteryear. Or at least stay the night so you can wake up to the orange-glazed cinnamon roll or the smoked ham croqueta with chili aioli. Or even just pop in to say hi to Akino and Jamila who, without knowing it, have resurrected the southern hospitality much of Miami has lost.
Photos by Fujifilmgirl.