He talks big, he walks big—and with a jet-black, bushy mohican, a beard to match, and a toned physique, he looks pretty big too.
Robert Rivani, the larger-than-life commercial real estate titan and president of Black Lion — who until recently called a Harry Potter- and Game of Thrones-inspired mansion his home — is also thinking big.
When it came to the 13,634-square-foot ground floor space he now occupies at the SLS Brickell Hotel and Residences at 1300 S. Miami Ave. in Miami to fill with a new restaurant, Rivani sought a top international name to anchor the Build with Style — and make its mark on the city’s dining scene.
Rivani commissioned Mexico-based Grupo RosaNegra to bring a version of one of their acclaimed venues to Miami, an opening that also marks RosaNegra’s US debut.
RosaNegra will be familiar to visitors to some of Mexico’s most visited destinations such as Tulum, Cabo and Cancun.
Rivani, 33, who made his first big bucks selling vintage sneakers as a teenager, had already made a big mark on Miami’s nightlife and also with Accor’s own brand SLS. Among several high-profile restaurant tenants, a real hotspot nearby is the Japanese-inspired Gekko at sister property, the SLS LUX Brickell Hotel & Residences, 805 S. Miami Ave. It didn’t hurt the rise of Gekko Puerto Rican hip-hop star Bad Bunny was among his investors.
“It was very important to have the right name in this area,” Rivani told The Post, referring to the 1300 S. Miami Ave property. “Whoever is on the ground floor of a building counts. This is a collaboration with a brand that is recognized and loved. This is Rosa Negra. It’s a great company. SLS Brickell is a fantastic building and that is the icing on the cake.”
The space previously housed a restaurant owned by José Andrés – surprisingly for such a premium culinary name it was closed and the space remained empty and deserted for a while, says Rivani.
“It’s not good for property prices,” he added. “Empty rooms make people wonder what’s wrong with the building. The developer approached me because they know I will hire someone who will add value to the property.”
Rivani says that not only are SLS residents good for the building and the neighborhood, but they will also benefit – not only in property value, but they will also enjoy RosaNegra as an extension of their homes’ entertainment and dining areas.
“This is great for the residents here,” he added. “You can meet up with friends for a drink right on your doorstep. Or have dinner at a top restaurant just downstairs.”
RosaNegra’s mix of high-end dining and high-energy nightlife atmosphere should fit right in with Miami’s hyper-action scene, he adds.
“RosaNegra has Ritz-Carlton or Four Seasons food grade quality,” said Rivani. “I could bring a McDonald’s to the property and still get the rent check in the mail. But that’s not the legacy I want for my company or the building.”
The restaurant is expected to open in spring 2024 and is still in the design, planning and subsequent approval phase. Because the space previously housed a restaurant, operational equipment, such as kitchen equipment, is already largely in place, greatly simplifying the process.
The design will be consistent with the RosaNegra brand — think Day of the Dead meets the Four Seasons — and the nearly 1,300 square feet of indoor space will be joined by 4,634 square feet of outdoor space.
RosaNegra’s menu focuses on dishes from Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil and Mexico. Just as much detail is put into the creation of cocktails and the maintenance of an exquisite wine list. A resident DJ and live music create a club atmosphere.
Black Lion’s portfolio includes over $200 million in acquisitions across South Florida with a notable collection of high-profile restaurant tenants ranging from Miami Beach to Wynwood and Brickell to Downtown. In addition to Gekko and upcoming RosaNegra, stocks include Philippe by Philippe Chow with the anchor One Ocean South Beach; Visit Miami Beach at the Continuum skyscraper. Amara at Paraiso with Chef Michael Schwartz; Wynwood Jungle with a newly opened Fable rooftop restaurant; GAIA on the ground floor of Marea condominium building; and Delilah on the Brickell Bay boardwalk.
RosaNegra, Rivani says, will complement rather than compete with its other Brickell restaurant customers.
“We don’t want to cannibalize ourselves and open another sushi restaurant like Gekko,” he said. “We wanted something different and there is no Mexican restaurant in the area with high quality and atmosphere. People love the RosaNegra vibe.”
Rivani, who grew up in Los Angeles, fell in love with South Florida a few years ago and moved there during the great pandemic migration with his wife Krystal, who also works at Black Lion and wholeheartedly approves of RosaNegra’s incorporation.
“My wife is from Mexico, so opening RosaNegra here will give me brownie points,” Rivani said.