hos·pi·tal·i·ty: the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.
Hospitality is a multi-billion dollar industry made up of numerous fields, including restaurants. The survival of restaurants depends on the satisfaction of its customers, and the ability to both continuously capture new customers and retain existing ones. So, how does a restaurant do so? See definition above.
In a city that is as flashy as it is hot like a summer day, hospitality is often forgotten in Miami, Florida. Many restaurants forget the "friendliness" and "generosity" component that is hospitality. Sure, profits and margins are important to the survival of the restaurant, but without customer satisfaction, restaurants can sink fast. Miami doesn't always have the best hospitality, if any at all. Behind the exterior glamour lies a city thirsting for customer service and a little kindness towards its patrons. Let's be honest, it's definitely not New York when it comes to service, but owner, entrepreneur, and restauranteur Mark Soyka has brought a much needed piece of his New York background to this palm-tree paradise, and its name is Soyka Restaurant.
If you're looking for a great date spot for a Friday or Saturday night, Soyka is the place. Upon walking in, you are greeted by the live jazz band. I was instantly taken by the retro microphone the singer was cajoling diners with while enjoying their candle-lit dinners.
I had initially chosen this place for its excellent reviews and promising menu. I always check the menu ahead of time before dining out because some restaurants will not cater to vegan and gluten-free diners. Additionally, I do not eat added oils, so usually this is tough as most things are already prepped ahead of time and doused in oil by the time they make it out to your table.
I called ahead and was connected with the Executive Chef, Pedro Lopez. He was very warm and went over the whole menu with me to see what they could prepare to accommodate me. I was pleased to know the hummus did not contain any added oils and any of the vegetables could be prepared to my liking. He said they could also prepare any fruit salad I'd like, and of course, salads.
We ordered the hummus which was sprinkled with chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and black olives, and we asked for some extra veggies on the side (carrots and celery). It also came with pita bread. The hummus was a generous portion, and we couldn't finish it all, but it made a great addition to my next day's meal. Next up was the Soyka salad, a sizable portion of mixed greens, tomatoes, avocado, carrots, cucumbers, and radishes. The ingredients were simple but fresh and beautifully presented. Many times restaurants try to do too much with salads, but I'm left wanting a solid, satisfying salad where the veggies are the stars, and not the calorie-laden dressings and add-ons.
Through the large picture windows on the right side of the restaurant is the indoor courtyard, a quaint provençal corridor adjacent to the restaurant decorated with hanging clay pots brimming with greenery. For an extra romantic touch, ask to be seated here.
The food at Soyka was excellent, but what made the experience stand out was the service. It is not often that restaurants accommodate my food preferences, but Soyka went above and beyond to ensure that I, too, had an enjoyable experience. Restaurants are part of the hospitality industry, but it seems that many have forgotten that component. Eating out is not just about the food, but the friendliness and generosity that accompany it. After all, everyone is a stranger when you walk into a restaurant, but it's how they make you feel that elevates you from being just a stranger to feeling welcome.
Soyka Restaurant, 5556 NE 4th Ct, Miami, FL 33137
ATMOSPHERE Lively and energetic.
SOUND LEVEL Loud and upbeat
RECOMMENDED Hummus, Soyka Salad, Quinoa Salad
DRINKS They serve a variety of cocktails and wines.
PRICES Starters $8-$18; main courses, $10-$38
OPEN Sun-Th 11am-11pm; Fri-Sat 11am-12am
FORMS OF PAYMENT: All major credit cards and cash