Restaurants often reflect the personality of their creator, embodying their spirit and unique style. Miami is full of fancy restaurants with fancy names, however most of them are just a show. Smoke and mirrors, lovely looking on the plate, but hold up the mirror and you’ll find an empty belly along with your empty pocket.
It’s the special gems alive with soul that keep us coming back for more. Fufi restaurant is one such place owned by Florencia Anaya.
Fufi, the name her grandmother gave her, reflects that she did not have a culinary background. Her mother did not cook food for her, it was her grandma that made special little cocktail empanadas just for her.
Empanadas were her favorite food made with love by someone she loved, so it made sense to make them for her friends and family. During her many travels, Anaya missed her grandmother so she called her to get the recipes of the food that could bring her back home anytime she wanted.
Karina: How did you start making empanadas and what inspired you?
Fufi: It was always my favorite food growing up. My mother did not cook but my grandmother would make me little cocktail emapanadas. Ham and cheese, beef, chicken, spinach and mozzarella just for me.
F: When I moved to America, I missed my grandmother and asked her how to make empanadas over the phone. I started making them for friends. No one could pronounce them but everybody loved them!
When I moved to Miami I was working at a restaurant and would warm up my empanadas in the Chefs oven. He loved them and asked me to bring them in for lunch. He was the person who told me I should sell them.
That’s how I started. Farmers markets, special orders and now Fufi.
K: What would you say to other entrepreneurs when they feel like they don’t have much funding? Were you financially prepared? How long would you give your dream time?
F: No… I did not have a lot of money but I did have home and some stability.
Follow your goal and keep moving. One thing leads to another. [For me] People ordered, a coffee shop then called me, then I’d get a call from someone opening gourmet market, Baptist Hospital, orders for parties, or families to freeze. Cater this, then that. Within 3 months of starting, I hired someone to start cooking and make a little kitchen. I rented a commercial kitchen twice a week. From there, I kept at it and it grew into this.
K: A lot of people say you’re going to expand very quickly. What do you think?
F: Right now i’m super happy where I am, making my restaurant what I like. I like the music playing, people talking and laughing… it’s like a home kitchen party. I don’t want to lose money, but I did not start this to make myself rich. I love random strangers enjoying themselves in my place. I have made so many friends since I opened.
Life is a conversation, I like to speak with my customers, how was your day? What is going on with your life? The restaurant feels like an extension of inviting friends to my home. I am there 18 hours a day, from my first sip of coffee in the morning to the last sip of water at night.
I love epochs, whether in France, Vienna or New York. We think of them as long periods of time, however, they were only usually for a few years. I think Miami is on the cusp of that and Fufi reflects the intimacy and realness of an artsy café and a full service restaurant. Anaya keeps Fufi open late if her customers are having a good time. I love that!
Fufi is where I go when I don’t want to cook but I want home cooking. The empanadas are amazing, the salads are fresh and the people are interesting. The thing I love the most is the way the place makes me feel: welcoming, warm and fun. I can eat there alone or with friends and still feel comfortable and invited.
I think Anaya is a healer and food is her modality. She comes from a generous heart. If your soul needs a little injection of joy, head over to Fufi Restaurant for a beer and an empanada.
Words by Karina Hayes, Faith and Science, Culture for the Heart.
Photos by: Camila Paez