Nestled into the courtyard of the First National Bank of South Miami, enter into Respice – Independent Republic.  Step inside this intimate and hip interior, sense the calm and quality, and appreciate the openness of a loft, an art gallery, a living room and retail showcase.

Respice – Independent Republic, caters to sophisticated clientele with a global collection of handmade, one-of-a-kind and exceptional items, emphasizing accessories, lifestyle objects and décor crafted by independent designers, artisans and brands.

Founded by partners Gisela Balassa and Alejandro Orestano, who enjoy an extensive international background in fashion and retail.  While living in Milan, they drew inspiration to conceive their lifestyle concept store from 10 Corso Como, where consumers find works of art, fashion, music, design, cuisine and culture.

Gisela has a background in textile design, working in theatre and fashion as well.  She was the fashion coordinator for Elle Magazine and Mujer Nueva in Mexico City.

Alejandro is descended from the family which built the Scappino Italian luxury fashion house created in 1914 by Domenico Scappino in Torino (IT),  now with boutiques throughout Europe and Mexico.

Orestano believes that “consumers have changed their set of values for good.  Fashion is not about the label and the big logos anymore.”  Balassa adds, “It’s about the uniqueness, the effort and joy in finding something special, something that no one has seen or bought before.”  The focus at Respice – Independent Republic is to select designers who choose to make one thing only, and to make it exceedingly well.  Standouts in the Respice habitat: hats by NY designer Eugenia Kim, chic eyewear handcrafted at the Italian house of L.G.R.; sleek, yet durable travel accessories and urban gear by Sandqvist, Swedish designers.

In choosing South Miami to launch their lifestyle concept store, they are aware that SOMI consumers are well-travelled and into fashion. “It is the kind of market where people understand and appreciate uniqueness and quality.”

And the dragonfly….  It so happens that a dragonfly was trapped inside the window of a local retailer on Sunset.  Alejandro managed to capture the insect and set it free. “The dragonfly is a short-lived insect, so it has to live life fully in a brief time.”
He called Gisela and said, “I believe we have the symbol for Respice.”  Live life fully.

Respice – Independent Republic | 5760 Sunset Drive | 305.661.5006
Mon-Sat 10a – 7p. Sun, Noon-5 | www.respicemiami.com


Looking for a gourmet home-cooked lunch or a prepared meal you can pick up on the way home from work?  Well, Chef Scott Wise has it all here at his new eatery opened in mid-May on Madruga Avenue, directly north of Sunset Place.

Born and raised in South Miami, Chef Scott attended Gulliver Academy, went off to junior college only to find he was naturally drawn to cooking.  He graduated from Johnson & Wales in 2001, and then on to the Sonesta Beach, working with Chef Thomas Pardo;  he opened the Ritz-Carlton South Beach under Executive Chef Thomas Connell, and later was Junior Sous Chef at the Victor Hotel.

From these experiences, he learned the “action of planning”  for catering events and setting up large functions.  Now in his own kitchen, he “loves the action of not knowing what’s next.”

He also studied in France at Le Calabash School with Sidney & Alison Bond.  Working with these Michelin Star chefs, among other things he learned: “there’s more than one way to make mashed potatoes.”

But don’t be mislead, it’s not just mash potatoes that’s served up here.  Chef Scott offers vegetarian dishes, great sides and choices for the whole family.  And everything is made to order.  A few of the favorite items on the menu include: hickory smoked salmon filet, curry lentils, quinoa, beet salad and brussel sprouts.

Prices are exceptionally reasonable for the quality of a home-cooked gourmet meal, and parking is very convenient – right outside the front door.  So come by and meet Chef Scott and have him cook something up for you.

Mash Potatoes | 1535 Madruga Avenue | 305.667.0504 | 11:30a to 7:30p, Monday through Saturday


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