Luis Garcia Talks Miami River Evolution

Erin Lavan |
Culinary Personalities

Luis Garcia, owner of Garcia's on the River, talks about the changes to the Miami River district and how they have affected him:

Garcia’s on the River began before I was born--1966. It was just a fish market, and then it evolved. My father started a wholesale business and bought this property because it was the only thing he could afford. It wasn’t a restaurant at the time, it was a vacant lot that had gas pumps for boating, so it operated as a gas station, but my father used it as storage for our wholesale business. Then in the '70s it became a restaurant, so we’ve been here over 49 years now. My brother and I have run it for 20 and my mom is still here.

I would say that in the past eight months, we have done about 300-500 percent better business than we have in the past 30 years. It happens, because we were the only business for about 15 blocks, and now there are three other restaurants here. So more people are coming to the area, and if there is a wait somewhere else, we get the overflow. It's good for us in a lot of ways.

It’s actually kind of making us go backwards--this is a family restaurant, whereas the other newer places are kind of fancy and upscale.  I’m more relaxed, you can come with your family and relax. You can’t change your essence or your authenticity just because other people around you change. In other words, you go deeper into who you are instead of fabricating something you are not. I tend to gravitate towards where I came from. I’m going retro-active--when people around me get fancy, I’m getting more mom and pop. It would be weird if I started to pretend I’m something I’m not.  

I think that’s true about human beings in general. We try to fancy ourselves up in life, only to realize as we get more mature that your true authentic self is so much more attractive.