Naomi's Garden: A Gem in Little Haiti
Naomi's Garden Restaurant & Lounge is more than just a “ Taste of Lil Haiti”, it's a vital component of the community it serves. I, alongside my favorite photographer, Javier, had the opportunity to experience the place as we sat down with the Yemini family to discuss the rich history of this local gem.
“Every gem holds a glimmer of inspiration.”
This hidden oasis, located in the intersection of Liberty City and Little Haiti, is nothing short of an inspiration.
Naomi's birth story is special in itself. For 35 years, Naomi’s Garden has been a staple of it’s community. Yaron and Shula Yemini first bought the space in 1981 with the hopes of opening a health food store and restaurant as they recognized the neighborhood's need for health conscious, quality food. Never did they imagine that their passion for healthy food would turn into a thriving business, or, for that matter, a Haitian Restaurant.
Visionary and founder, Yaron, shared in a funny story, how he went out into the community in search of local people to hire. While recruiting in a local store, he met a Haitian lady who, was not only interested in the job, but, recruited three of her church sisters to work at the establishment. Decades later, two of those women are still cooking and curating healthy dishes, in the Naomi’s Garden kitchen. For the next few decades, the couple, alongside their two sons Noam and Omaar, have worked to provide a healthy, and pleasant environment for the community to enjoy. This strong family pride embodies Naomi’s as they are proud of their commitment and place in the community.
When asked where were you born? Noam jokingly says, “I was born right over there" (pointing to an old trailer area).
All jokes aside, Noam, the older son of the founding couple, explained how the space has been such a big part of his life. Noam spent time as a flight attendant and electrical engineer before moving back to Miami to help his family grow and relaunch the restaurant. Creatively, he is a big part of the restaurant, sharing with me the designs and the big plans they have for their space.
South Florida has a large Caribbean and Haitian population and many restaurants that boast about having the best Haitian cuisine. But, many of these places fall short of Naomi's, which brings a new spin to many of the most enjoyed traditional dishes.
Unlike most of its counterparts, at Naomi's, no pork is served. That means: No Griot! To some, this may sound crazy because Griot is such a delicacy in the Haitian culture. But, this does not stop the community and others from returning. The patrons appreciate the health conscious menu. While Good tasting food is important, Naomi’s prides itself in preparing healthy dishes that the community loves.
According to son Noam “We've always been a health conscious family." The healthy consciousness and kosher cooking style of the Yemini Family, mixed with the traditional Haitian Flavor of cooking, blends beautifully together to create healthier, fresher, and delicious dishes that feed the soul.
Naomi’s is a melting pot of cultures, cuisines, and influence. Where else could you sit on a bench with a mural of Emperor Haile Selassie, while quenching your thirst with a homemade passion fruit drink, and dining on Haitian delicacies like pwason fri, (fried fish) and Dire ak Pwa (rice and beans)?
One can feel the essence of peace and tranquility as they relax in the outdoor garden space. The wooden gazebos, colorful murals, and and plethora of exotic fruit trees all contribute to its carefree and authentic ambiance. Intimate, warm, and cozy are words that can describe the space.
Over the years, Naomi’s Garden has gone through several transformations, but its ethereal vibes and authentic spirit continues to live on. Naomi’s has proven to be a staple of the community as they celebrated their longevity and new direction at their Grand Opening Party this past Saturday.
With strong support from the Haitian community, they are ready to expand to new markets and showcase the beauty and uniqueness of this hidden oasis.
If you're ever in the area stop by, and tell them Lauren sent you!
Special thanks to the Yemini Family and the Naomi's Garden staff for an amazing experience. Also, to the talented Javier Edwards of El Roi Photography for capturing such perfect moments.
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