For more than 80 years, the Galbut family has been developing Miami Beach, and now with a new generation taking over, the sky is the limit.
Keith Menin and Jared Galbut at the Menin Hospitality offices, in front of a beach skyline they are helping to shape.
The Galbut family’s love affair with Miami Beach began in 1931 when Abraham and Bessie Galbut moved to the city, opened Al’s, a shop that was equal parts drugstore, tag agency, notary public, and restaurant, and immersed themselves in the community. Their grandsons, Russell Galbut and Bruce Menin, cofounded with partner Sonny Kahn the development company Crescent Heights and reshaped the city with the Shelborne, the Alexander, the Decoplage, Carriage Club, and the Casablanca—not to mention 35,000 residential units around the country over the past 35 years.
Now, Bruce’s nephew, Keith Menin, and a cousin, Jared Galbut, are the next generation taking the town by storm. With hotel and food and beverage projects such as Bentley South Beach, Sanctuary South Beach, Gale South Beach, Kaskades Suites, Radio Bar, Pizza Bar, and most recently the massively successful Bodega Taqueria y Tequila, Menin Hospitality is continuing the family tradition of building a richer Miami.
What are your earliest memories of the family business?
Jared Galbut: I remember going [to the Shelborne] on the weekends with my father, looking at the renovations and eating breakfast by the pool every Saturday. It was always interesting, even at a young age, seeing the family working together. Keith Menin: One summer, I worked at the Shelborne front desk with the bow tie and little name tag on the vest. Russell always said, “If you want to know what I know, and you want to be me one day, you have to really learn every inch of the business.”
When did you realize you could work together, and what’s the dynamic like?
KM: I had a car wash business when I was 15, a vending machine business when I was 16, and even then I would pick [Jared] up and he’d do all the work while I was watching. He was the younger cousin that wanted to hang out with me, and I needed the help, so we’ve always done things together. JG: Now, we’re always in agreement with what we want to do. I enjoy operations and managing the company, and Keith enjoys acquisitions, construction, and design. I set him up properly for the operations, and Keith executes it, builds it, designs it, and then tags me in.
How did your first project, The Sanctuary hotel, pave the way for today’s success?
JG: It was our first learning experience developing these hotels. When you’re young, you’re excited and you have passion and you want to be on top of the world, but I think you learn patience and perfecting what you do. KM: Back then, there wasn’t TripAdvisor, Yelp, or any social media, so I met all my guests face to face and saw what they liked and didn’t like. That customer service is still what I do today. When we open a bar like Bodega, I’m still there checking on every person.
The Gale South Beach, Bodega, and Radio Bar are all quite different in character, yet all are successful. What’s the secret?
JG: We don’t say we want to do Mexican and we’re going to put it here because we want to do it. We found a space that we loved and we asked, “What would be great here?” The same goes for our new projects South of Fifth—Red Ginger, an Asian-influenced concept, and Bake House, which is a French brasserie. KM: Every concept we do is catered to the demographic, but the common denominator is that there’s always a great vibe and great customer service. If you go to Pizza Bar, Radio Bar, or The Gale, you can almost feel that we did it without having to say it’s Menin Hospitality.
What does Russell think of your success?
JG: He’s having so much fun with it, and it’s exciting for him to be a part of our growth and the growth of the city. His excitement and his guidance are vital to the success of our company. KM: Russell walked into Bodega and said, “I love the warehouse. Do one of your concepts. You’re going to make it work.” He’s never wrong. A lot of our success is due to having him as our coach.
Your family has this hospitality heritage—do you see that passing on to the next generation?
KM: The business and the family all blend together. Between Jared’s kids and eventually my kids, I hope someone wants to be in the hotel business. I think that legacy is very important. JG: I always joke that my son is going to be the first 6-year-old bellman. I’ve worked every single role—the mailroom, concierge, front desk, housekeeping, and construction. I would love for him to go through the same process.