Social Breakfast

The Betsy hosts SocialMiami and friends


By Melanie Cohen

Multi-million dollar hospital expansions, newly renovated botanical gardens, complex redevelopment projects for strife-torn Haiti, the arts, education - our heads were spinning at the latest Social Breakfast hosted by The Betsy.


Our breakfast table at BLT

BLT's main seating area

The view from Betsy’s rooftop deck
As Michele Sadkin and I continue our quest to learn more about what’s happening in the community, we are awe-struck by the incredible projects underway by South Florida’s nonprofit organizations and the dedicated folks who are behind them.

Mingling in the elegant lobby of The Betsy, awaiting another extravagant breakfast feast, this time as guests of BLT, key personnel from a variety of charities and cultural organizations were getting to know one another and playing “nonprofit geography,” sharing knowledge and colleagues in common. The universal comment was, “We really should get together more often!”

If you haven’t been to The Betsy since its re-do in 2009, you’re missing a real gem. Laurent Tourondel’s new take on the modern American steakhouse – BLT Steak – is just off the lobby and open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus specialty cocktails and light fare at the lobby bar.

The Betsy originally opened in 1942 and saw its share of the celebrities during the heydays of the 50s and 60s. Since it was purchased and completed redone by Jonathan Plutzik, The Betsy has taken on a vibrant role in philanthropy with a unique commitment to good works globally, as well as in the South Florida community. When general manager Jeff Lehman greeted our group, it was perfectly clear that he and his entire team embraced the owner’s philanthropic attitude and community-conscious programming.

Events are often held on The Betsy’s rooftop deck that overlooks Lummus Park and the Atlantic, and in the B Bar, an ultra-chic lounge that’s perfect for a 50-person reception or cocktail party. The Betsy hosts jazz in its lobby bar on Thursday nights, plus book talks and signings, and world-class art and photography exhibitions.


standing: Paul Fisher, Marcelo Rivera; seated: Angelica Bertot, Julie Burstein, Stacey Glassman Mizener
I had the pleasure of taking a tour with Julie Burstein, the Director of Catering, who planned our breakfast. It was mid-morning, and when we went up to the rooftop, there were private areas where you can get a massage al fresco – with those grand views of the beach! They serve herbal teas and offer yoga as well. Makes you want to just check in for one of those Stay-cations that are so popular. The Betsy has 61 rooms and suites – it’s truly South Beach. . .refined.

The menu for our breakfast included yogurt, granola & berries parfaits and smoked salmon tea sandwiches as appetizers and, served family style, a glorious vegetable frittata, almond-brioche French toast with carmelized bananas and chicken maple sausage. Divine.


Jeremy Katzman, Alba Carreras-Vazquez
Besides Julie Burstein, joining us for breakfast were Jean Villamizar, Manager of Marketing and Philanthropy, and Ivan Tamayo, Director of Sales. Our guests included:

Jeremy Katzman from Miami Children’s Hospital Foundation, who is busy promoting the Foundation’s 5K run/walk on September 24 in Coral Gables and, of course, the upcoming gala on October 29 where music legends and South Florida icons Gloria and Emilio Estefan will be inducted into the Ambassador David M. Walters International Pediatric Hall of Fame.

Miami Beach Botanical Garden’s Laura Jamison was proud to announce that the $1.2 million landscape renovation project by landscape architect Raymond Jungles is on time and on budget! The 50-year-old garden will reopen in late October.

Marcelo Rivero and Paul Fisher, who are working on Pan American Development Foundation’s Hard Hats for Haiti, a nationwide campaign to rebuild Haiti, neighborhood by neighborhood. The campaign kicks off with Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and the Consul General of Haiti Ralph Latortue, on September 22 at the Little Haiti Cultural Center. PADF is seeking to raise $1 million each year for 3 years in order to implement $50 million in funds already committed by PADF’s institutional donors.


Tommy Lopez, Ian Rand, Megan Riley, Ivan Tamayo

Binsen Gonzalez, Laura Jamison, Jean Villamizar
New World Symphony’s Stacey Glassman Mizener is behind the official opening of the Friends of the New World Symphony 2011-12 season. The group will host an evening that begins with Tchaikovsky’s Fifth at New World Center, followed by a lush post-performance bash, Symphony After Hours, in the Fontainebleau’s Glimmer Ballroom. The event is nearly sold out so the best way to get tickets is sign up s a VIP member, which comes with 8 concerts and 8 parties, plus other privileges. Support the arts and party on.

Ian Rand and Tommy Lopez from The Wolfsonian-F.I.U. were happy to share all the great goings-on at The Wolf and especially a fun evening for The Wolfsonian Visionaries on 11/11/11 at 1111 Lincoln Road. Watch for more about this! Ian and Tommy would have been joined by Julieth Dabdoub, but Julieth just went on maternity leave, awaiting her first baby.

Megan Riley from the Bass Museum of Art was busy discussing a new idea with the chaps from The Wolfsonian. Seems that they want to launch a “First Friday Night” for the arts that would begin at The Wolfsonian and move on to the Bass (or vice versa). Just an example of how these groups work together to provide innovative programming that we all can enjoy!

Angelica Bertot and Binsen Gonzalez, representing City Year Miami, an organization started over 20 years ago by two room-mates at Harvard Law School. They felt that young people can be powerful resources in addressing our nation’s most pressing issues, most particularly education. The organization is wholly focused on fighting the national dropout crisis, training and supporting corps members who serve as tutors, mentors and role models to our youth.

Miami Dade College Foundation’s Alba Carreras-Vazquez, who plays an important role with the Alumni Relations team to stay connected to their more than 2 million alumni, talked about the Foundation's new website that will be launching s