Della Heiman is founder of The Wynwood Yard, an outdoor gathering space, culinary incubator, and community hub for culture, food and entrepreneurship. Below, she shares the story of how, in less than two years, The Yard has created a platform for entrepreneurs to shine in the Magic City. The Wynwood Yard is receiving $100,000 in new support from Knight Foundation.
Entrepreneurs are taught to focus; to identify a niche and continuously target it, but just as important are the abilities to pivot and reimagine. I arrived in Miami with the initial goal of opening della bowls, a plant-based, fast casual restaurant designed to make healthy food approachable and affordable. The Wynwood Yard came to life when I was faced with obstacles that forced me to refocus, get creative, and ultimately change my original plan.
As it turned out, the very barriers that hindered della bowls as a brick and mortar—financially-limiting real estate conditions and an unproven business model—would become the foundation for The Wynwood Yard. With a new focus on providing entrepreneurs, particularly those in the food, beverage and creative industries with affordable space and ready access to customers, The Wynwood Yard was born. In less than two years, it has become a cultural hub that hosts events, fosters local musicians, and offers residencies to more than 15 food, design and retail businesses.
All of the credit for this phenomenon goes to the entrepreneurs who have chosen to join us. Our resident business owners pour their magic into innovative concepts that draw a hybrid of customers hungry for globally-inspired cuisines, from American-Caribbean soul food to Brazilian barbeque to Taiwanese shaved ice cream. Each of our 15-30 weekly events is created in collaboration with a local arts, cultural, environmental or fitness entrepreneur.
What gratifies me most about The Wynwood Yard is that the myriad of offerings draws diverse people from every walk of life. The Yard has transformed into an interactive landscape for powerful human connection.
All too often, people tend to stick with the familiar, in the boundaries of a certain zone or neighborhood. The Wynwood Yard reveals that Miamians don't have an inherent desire to avoid people who are different. At The Yard, diverse tribes end up rubbing shoulders at communal tables or while grabbing a drink at the bar. While stumbling upon something new—whether it’s a Caribbean bowl, a native flower in the garden, or a live act like Tamboka, Raquel Sofia or Juke—our guests often stumble upon someone new. That someone is often a window into a valuable culture, idea or perspective.
Our guests visit to enjoy a Grateful Dead tribute band, dance to Latin hip hop, or to lounge on the lawn during a folk festival. They come to practice yoga, to paint, to harvest herbs and to dine under the stars at farm-to-table dinners. They come to laugh, to connect, to kick off their shoes and to celebrate meaningful moments. Sometimes they even come to fall in love.
My hope is that The Wynwood Yard continues to serve as a place that all kinds of people in Miami can call their own. We plan to broaden our community offerings by adding new wellness and sustainability-focused festivals and children’s educational opportunities in our urban garden. We’ll continue to develop our core mission by providing a launch pad for culinary entrepreneurs, both via residencies and at pitch events moderated by Miami’s most visionary business leaders, developers and investors.
With the support of Knight Foundation, we’ll continue to build community and an entrepreneurial ecosystem defined by heart, soul and a daily celebration of this vibrant magic city.