In what part of town do you live?
How long have you lived the area?
Almost 17 years.
Where are you originally from?
From a little town called New Windsor, New York.
What brought you to Miami?
The Navy, I joined in 1997. I went to boot camp. Then I went to ‘A school’ and was stationed in Southcom, in Doral.
Did you think you’d stay in Miami after your service?
Yes. For whatever reason, I always wanted to live in Miami growing up. Maybe it’s just a small town that I grew up in, and just wanting something bigger, warmer, and more beautiful. When I got here, I instantly fell in love with Miami.
What did you do in the Navy?
I was an intelligence specialist.
Are you allowed to say more?
I was a geospatial analyst. We did political assessments, military assessments, different things like that.
What keeps you busy now during the week?
I have three kids, a full-time job, I try to work out whenever I can, so I don’t get too fat. That basically fills up most of my time.
What do you do at work?
I work for a company called DMI. They’re based up North in Virginia. I’m a systems analyst, my official title is a network administrator. I’m kind of a lead regional manager for the east coast. I maintain and update systems along the east coast for my company. It could be anything from creating new virtual servers to adding user accounts to setting up a whole new clustered system of Microsoft servers.
Are you parlaying any of your knowledge from the Navy?
Yes. During Y2K, I was considered to be a ‘power user’ because I knew a lot about the systems we were working with on a daily basis. During Y2K, everybody was worried that the end of the world was coming and all the computers were going to crash. The Navy tapped me and asked me if I was interested in learning about computers. They ushered me off and that’s how I basically got involved in computers. I was a blank slate and I got to learn right there on the job. It was interesting and exciting and a lot of fun at the time.
What part is most fun?
I’m a big fan of the customer relationships that I build. I’m pretty social by nature and I’ve been on the other side as an analyst working with the systems and knowing what comes up and what you need. I love building those relationships, working with people, and seeing how we can make their jobs easier.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I’m a fitness guy. I do Jujitsu and we have a little ‘fight club’ at work, which is fun. I never did martial arts as a kid, so the amount of thinking and maneuvering you have to do while somebody’s trying to choke you out is a lot of fun to learn. We have some really good instructors that teach you from a very basic level. Every day that you get to roll and grapple you’re learning exponentially.
A fight club at work? Is that a good way of relieving work tensions?
Absolutely. I describe it as my meditation. I can’t really sit still and meditate, but when you’re in the middle of a jujitsu roll, you’re thinking of nothing more than what’s going on right at that second. I like to say that’s the most present I am. It’s very satisfying and keeps your ego in check because at any given time you can get tapped out or choked out or somebody 50 – 60 pounds lighter.
You come by the drive through almost every week. What is that experience like?
I see your stand as this, small town kind of place where you say hello to people. It’s almost the opposite of normal everyday life in Miami. I love your stand for that. It’s very welcoming. I love the fact that you’re selling good food and good products. And you never know who will be there. Two weeks ago, we were at your stand and saw our friend (Liz) who completely lives on the other side of Miami and we had no idea she came there.
How did you discover LNB?
My eye doctor (Vanessa) She referred me to you guys because I have this autoimmune disorder that creates inflammation in my scalp. We’ve been coming out there ever since. I think that was like two years ago, maybe more. My kids say the difference is like night and day. If I don’t take it for a while, I notice because I’ll get an itch at the spots that I have. My kids say, ‘daddy, your hair’s coming back.’ So – I don’t stop. I make a latte with some coffee, a little bit of milk, and a shot of turmeric.
What else do you pick up when you come by the stand?
Always a Turmeric Concentrate. We do the bagels with the cream cheese. We do the ice cream and the kombucha. If you have the chocolate chip Turmeric Hearts, we have those. The guacamole and I need more of the banana bread that we had last weekend. It was fantastic. And, we just started with the yogurt as well.
We often talk music at the stand, has music always been important to you?
I used music as an escape growing up. It wasn’t until I got into college where I really started to get into the Jerry Garcia Band, Grateful Dead, and Allman Brothers. What’s funny is I worked at an ice cream shop as a kid and the owner sold classic guitars on the side. At any given time, like Stevie Ray Vaughn’s guitar was in my shop and I could strum it. My boss was a really good guitarist. He would teach me chords, but I never really appreciated the fact that Stevie Ray Vaughn’s guitar was in there until of course it was too late and I was already older. I remember talking to Joe Walsh on the phone one time when he called for a guitar. As I started to understand music more, I really fell in love with Duane Allman and the slide guitar.
What is it about the music that attracts you?
I’m a lyrics guy. Jerry Garcia tells stories. I love a lot of the places he takes you. My first experience with the Dead was Terrapin Station. I’ll never forget it. I went to Rockaway Beach and we went to a garage sale and picked up Terrapin Station and Working Man’s Dead. We listened to it all weekend long on the record player. I remember thinking to myself, how did I not ever hear this? That basically hooked me right there.
Are there any restaurants that you recommend?
We just went to Peacock Garden in Coconut Grove. That was really good. Laura loved it. We went to Bakan in Wynwood, I enjoyed that. We always like Steve’s Pizza. I’m kind of a pizza snob being from New York. That’s the closest we’ve come to finding good New York pizza.
What’s Miami’s best kept secret or where might you take someone who’s visiting from out of town?
Nowadays I think I would probably take them to Wynwood, because you can walk around and there’s some good breweries. But it’s not a big secret. It’s almost becoming too touristy. We probably have to go out and explore more to try to find more local spots where we can get a good beer and see some music. Those are like little things I miss about New York, or even in smaller towns, that you can always find a little bar with some music somewhere. I wish we had more of that in Miami.
What for you is a worthy splurge?
The ice cream that we get from your place. Or a really good beer. A good beer and a good conversation. Or a splurge for me finding a good bourbon, something new that I haven’t tried. I have a bourbon that I just picked up at Total Wine called Bibb and Tucker. It’s really good.
What community groups are important to you that you might like to promote or share?
I’m a big one for Wounded Warrior. I’m a veteran, so I try to stay in touch with what they are doing and help out if I can.
Is there a question, challenge, or words of advice that you would like to pose to the community?
How can we get more local, mom and pop, places in this area like Wynwood?
Is there a question that you would like to ask us?
(DD) Do you plan to open more than the weekends?
(A+W) We’ve talked about opening up during the week, but it would have to be for walk-ins. The parking lot is full so we can’t have a drive through. We’ve even talked about getting our brewery license so that we can sell growlers of beers that we make with local breweries.
When we spoke with Laura, she said that we should ask you for a story about growing up. She said that you have some unbelievable stories.
Oh. They’re never PG, I can’t give you a story like that. I like to say I was raised by wolves. My parents were pretty horrible people and I am very lucky to have found the military and my way to Miami. You can imagine kids with really bad parents hanging out in New York, running from Madison Square Garden at a very young age, or after a Ranger game trying not to get killed running through Times Square to get to Grand Central Station. It was interesting growing up in New Windsor. It was a very small town with small town problems. You grow up with kids that are from very similar backgrounds and you wind up depending on them to get through your formative years.
What lessons did you learn from those days that stuck with you?
I learned how to survive at all times. I think you take it for granted when you grow up in that kind of neighborhood. You always looked out for each other and at the same time, if you were doing something stupid, one of your friends would smack you upside the head and be like, ‘Hey man, what are you doing?’ I think those are lessons that people don’t learn anymore. My friends were really tough, and would get you into trouble as much as they would get you out of the trouble you were in. There are some good stories for offline.
How did you learn to become a better parent?
My goal as a parent was to do the exact opposite of what my parents did. My mother was an alcoholic and kind of a drug addict. My father was an alcoholic. He worked hard, he was a truck driver. He came home and just wanted to get the day over kind of thing. My goal was never to be anything like them and to try to be involved in my children’s lives as much as possible.
Do you enjoy being a parent?
I do very much. I am very spoiled. I have three beautiful girls who are going to keep me very young. They keep me on my toes. They are incredibly intelligent and beautiful. They get that from their mother. They are unbelievably hard working. Some days I wake up and don’t feel like going for a run or working out. And my kids are already at the pool at 4:30 in the morning. They motivate me, they’re amazing.
Thank you so much for the interview. Any final thoughts?
I appreciate you reaching out and asking me to do it. I’s super cool. I’ll tell you some stories next time I see you.