Chef Michael Beltran Unveils Chug’s 2.0
In the spring of 2019, acclaimed chef/restaurateur Michael Beltran expanded his restaurant empire with the small, unassuming pop-up Chug’s, located just blocks from his Coconut Grove restaurants, Ariete, Navé, and The Taurus. Named after the chef himself – an old high school nickname that stuck – the scrappy little spot was Beltran’s take on an American diner with a Cuban spin, a tribute to classic American cookery and his rich Cuban heritage. During the COVID-19 crisis, Chug’s went from everyone’s favorite local spot for Cafecito, handmade gourmet pastelitos and traditional Cuban fare with a twist to a café & bodega; pivoting into food and supply delivery, half the restaurant turned into a curated grocery store with everything from pantry staples to packaged foods. No longer just a pitstop for joggers, dogwalkers, busy Groveites, and freelancers looking for a place for a bite and gratis Wi-Fi, Chug’s became a neighborhood haven for those in need of supplies, a pick-me-up, and a little comfort. Come August 2021, Beltran and his team at Ariete Hospitality Group (AHG) will celebrate Chug’s third incarnation when chef’s “little restaurant that could,” which has been closed for months, relaunches as a permanent and expanded full-service diner and modern-day ventanita.
The restaurant now occupies the same space it once did – all 677 square feet of it – but expanded outward to a total of over 4,500-square-feet of indoor-outdoor dining, bar, and café space (indoor seating 70; outdoor seating 80). Now, instead of a tiny space no bigger than a pocket-sized grab n’ go, Chug’s boasts an airy, open design scheme with plenty of natural light, a ventanita for a morning, afternoon, or late-night pick-me-up, an inside grab n’ go counter, full diner-style counter seating, a café/lounge area, and an indoor full-service dining room. The expansive, newly renovated outdoor courtyard will offer plenty of colorful seating and serve as a sanctuary where guests can dine and imbibe al fresco in a lush, tropical setting.
Like a true diner, Chug’s will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week with an exclusive selection of breakfast items available ‘til close. Unlike most diners, Chug’s will feature a full bar with a curated cocktail list on par with what cocktailers have come to expect from any Ariete Hospitality Group concept. Creative conctions include Carajillo – vodka, vanilla, coffee liqueur, Cuban coffee, baking spices; Guava Gimlet – gin, guava, lime; and Dirty Coke Flip – Black Strap rum, scotch, cola syrup, whole egg, nutmeg.
Chug’s will open August 2021 in the heart of Coconut Grove at 3444 Main Highway. Seven days a week, hours of operation are as follows: breakfast 8 AM-5 PM; Lunch 11 AM-5 PM; dinner Sunday-Thursday 5 PM-10 PM, Friday & Saturday 5 PM-11 PM. Late-night night bar hours: Sunday-Thursday until Midnight, Friday & Saturday until 2 AM. Abundant municipal lot and metered parking is available. www.chugsdiner.com