PASSION PROJECT “Pura Vida started as a passion project for me,” Omer says of his and his wife Jen’s chain of comfortably chic, healthy-casual dining spots. He readily acknowledges that he and Jen came not from the culinary world, but from real estate. The two met cute, in 2014. Both were working for small real estate firms in Broward: Omer had a listing and Jen brought in the buyer. They were sold on each other. He was darkly handsome and swarthy—he emigrated from Tel Aviv when he was 21—while Jen, though born in Chicago, was a Fort Lauderdale girl, blond and sun-kissed. They married three years ago and have a four-month-old at home. The genesis for Pura Vida had been, he says, on the back-burner—until he met Jen, who convinced him to quit his real estate job and chase his dream. “I was always passionate about hospitality and community,” he says. “I identified areas where people live, work and play to offer that third place”—not home, not the office, but an inviting atmosphere where people could eat, work and be a bit social. Omer’s real estate background came in handy when prospecting for fertile ground for third places. Starbucks and Panera Bread set the mold for the third-place concept, but as Omer says, “I wanted a more elevated experience, a better guest experience.” The Pura Vida openings occurred in quick succession: South Beach, in the South of Fifth neighborhood (2012), Coral Gables, near the University of Miami (2016), Edgewater (2018), Miami Design District (2019), West Avenue in South Beach and West Palm Beach (2020), followed by Aventura (2021). The two traded a honeymoon in order to launch the Design District location (“I owe her a honeymoon,” Omer says, with a chuckle), but their riskiest bet was arguably West Avenue, with Omer thinking he could succeed where other casual and health food venues had foundered. Despite its location across the street from numerous high-rise condominium buildings, West Avenue between Ninth and 10th is a notoriously hard nut to crack. But Omer and Jen turned the block into a destination, as young entrepreneurs quickly flocked—and continue to flock—to the garden-like setting for wraps, juice shots and healthy bowls, all-day breakfast (almond berry toast, avocado smash), and an addictive chocolate peanut butter smoothie with a base of organic, grass-fed chocolate protein. “I think we created a community of health-minded people who care about what they’re putting in their bodies and care about being in a great space,” Jen says. “We get families, businessmen, yoga moms.” Omer adds that their customer base is so devoted that they see people coming in not only a few times a week, but a few times a day.

Director and EEO compliance officer at Florida Power & Light. Chair of the Florida Commission on Human Rights. President of Top Tier Leadership. Rita Barreto knows the ins and outs of every facet of the employer/employee dynamic. “Most organizations are swimming in Jello and they’re not really taking the time to equip the next generation of leaders,” she says. Baretto guides businesses out of the Jello—and the quicksand. Plus, she’s chair of the board of directors of Discover the Palm Beaches, evangelizing for the lushly gorgeous place she calls home. Barreto talks to SFBW about interviewing, leadership and the influx of New Yorkers to Palm Beach. Consulting can seem like a broad term. Let’s home in what you focus on. When I look at my consulting practice it’s really three primary areas. First is leadership development, which today is so important, because there are so many people exiting the workplace, a lot of talent walking out the door. So I do a lot in this space: training, executive coaching, working with teams. The second area I do a lot of work in is antidiscrimination. Back at FPL, I was the corporate EEO officer, the first diversity officer, and I was appointed by the governor to serve two four-year terms on the Florida Commission on Human Relations, which is the state’s civil rights group. I work with organizations to build respectful work environments. There’s not a shortage of people doing inappropriate, stupid things at work, unfortunately. What’s the third area? I’m inundated with strategic planning. It goes hand-in-hand with leadership. Of course, all the planning assumptions that people had in place were different before the pandemic. I’m helping organizations draw a line in the sand about their new reality and what blueprint they need to put in place to make sure they can build a more successful and sustainable future. And I do keynotes and workshops.