Perseverance. No word is a better representation of everything that is Jorge Ramos chef and owner of Barley. Better known to his friends as Jorgie, this restaurateur has had every odd imaginable thrown against him within the past few years. Whether it be lawsuits involving names, unforeseen venue construction, or similar issues, Jorgie has had to redefine his concept numerous times.
Established in 2013, Barley and Swine opened to wide appeal in Downtown Dadeland, providing the Kendall area with a gastropub focused on serving rustic Americana food with Latin and Asian influences. It ran successfully until October 2014, when the condominium his restaurant was located in began work on improvements that covered up his exhaust system, forcing smoke back into the kitchen. A complete overhaul for his menu was unavoidable to circumvent preparing food that caused abundant smoke, creating a concept that became a “badass sandwich shop” named Barley and Wich. Following in its predecessor’s footsteps, Barley and Wich offered craft sandwiches using the finest ingredients and local inspiration. Sadly, the concept was short-lived and reimagined yet again in January 2015 as what is now known as Barley: An American Brasserie. This more refined and less pork-centric menu is ever-evolving and rotates daily, giving diners the favorites that they have come to love during the last few concepts with a few surprises that are sure to become new Jorgie classics.
Although the sophisticated food at Barley would lead you to believe that Jorgie is an experienced kitchen veteran, you’d be surprised to learn that his first job in the kitchen came at The Joint, his first restaurant. “I always loved cooking for my family growing up, learning from my parents. But I never really had much experience in kitchens before I opened the Joint,” claimed Jorgie. “In fact, I didn’t even cook there until 2 years after opening. The last four months that the restaurant was operating was when I jumped into the kitchen out of necessity. I fell in love with it and never looked back. Now you can find me in the kitchen at Barley every night. It’s what makes me happy.”
Ramos Jr. was actually in the real estate market before ever thinking about opening a restaurant. “After the market crashed, I just jumped at the opportunity. I brought my dad with me and we’ve been a tag-team ever since.” People don’t realize just how integral of a part Jorge Ramos Sr. has been in Jorgie’s restaurant ventures. “He’s a huge part of making everything successful. He does absolutely EVERYTHING. He orders, he hosts, he’s in charge of the wine program. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be able to be in the kitchen as much as I am.”
It seems like Barley is a venture based on teamwork, love, and passion. It has gotten the Ramos family recognition beyond what they ever though possible. This sort of validation is something that is still surreal to Jorgie. Just in the past year, Barley and Swine’s Jamon Serrano and Manchego Croqueta was named as the best croqueta in Miami at BurgerBeast’s Croquetapalooza, Barley and Swine was invited to the LuckyRice festival, and Jorgie was invited to participate in various events for The South Beach Wine and Food Festival. “Being invited to do SOBE is extremely humbling. I have no business being there!!! I would have never thought about even dreaming to be a part of something like this. I promise to make all my friends and family proud.”
We disagree. Jorgie has every right to be getting all this attention. In fact, his is ability to evolve with constant change in the face of adversity is nothing short of inspiring and worthy of praise. His unpretentious take on comfort food eludes trends and differentiates Barley from other restaurants in Miami. For those who have been following Jorgie from the beginning, you can see the progression that has come from his time in the industry. “It’s all a learning process. I see everything in life as a competition, but we’re doing it because we love it.”
If this is the type of restaurant that Jorgie is bringing to the table after such a short time in the industry, we can only imagine of what will come next. Ramos has stated that he intends on opening different concepts within the next few years, even bring back Barley and Wich in a different location, but that his focus is on Barley for now. Either way, his dedication to the neighborhood in which he grew up promotes growth in Miami’s culinary scene, and this is something that Jorgie and his family should be extremely proud of.