The Bucci family knew pretty early on that it didn’t matter how much they loved Tybee Island, there was something missing.
“Oh, as soon as we moved here 2 years ago.” he says with a laugh.
He, in this instance, is Frank Bucci, who—along with his wife—has opened what some might describe as the best thing to happen to Tybee’s food scene in a long time.
It’s called ‘Mi Vida.’ Translated to English is ‘My Life’. It’s a nearly fully organic, clean eats cafe that has opened on the island at 14th and Butler.
There’s no other way to describe it except that they’ve been a smash hit after just about a month in operation.
The Bucci’s came to Tybee full time in 2019 because Frank was asked to be part of another restaurant project on the island. During the work on that project, Frank says he knew the space they currently occupy would be coming available. He inquired about it several times, but couldn’t get a definitive answer. That is until the day he pulled up at the adjacent Shell station for some gas and the owner came running out telling him the space would be available at the end of the month.
“I wrote him a check for $12,000 that day.” Frank says.
The concept came together rather quickly, he says. His wife had been making cold press juices as a hobby on the island and was regularly selling out. These chilled fresh juices quickly became one of the island’s hottest items. “I thought she’d sell 3 or so a week. She was selling 40 a week.”
It was she who suggested they combine her juice sales with Frank’s creative bites from a tiny kitchen and Mi Vida was born.
Mi Vida is a simple cafe offering all natural smoothies, coffees, some light bites to eat, sandwiches and of course those juices as well as acai bowls and some baked goods. Vegan and otherwise. Yes, you are reading this correctly. It’s all on Tybee.
“We know that this is South Georgia and everyone, including myself, loves a greasy spoon. But there was nothing here that was local and organic and clean.” Frank says.
The previous few lines might get me in trouble with the lovely people of Tybee Island, but I think it is fair to say eats like these on the island are long overdue. The crew at Sea Wolf has proven that there is a demand with their approach to vegan food on Tybee, but Frank felt like there was a void when it came to breakfast, lunch and grab and go. “We couldn’t find an acai bowl here.” he says.
The result is maybe the most talked about eatery on the island right now. The morning I was there, they were steadily busy. Frank tells me one day during Labor Day weekend they had a steady line out the door for close to 5 hours. The demand is there. This is very good supply.
The breads come from Savannah’s Le Cafe Gourmet. Vegan baked goods, several different options, are made in-house. Coffees, smoothies and bowls are churning out over here, while Frank and his kitchen crew turn out what he calls “elevated toasts” and sandwiches.
The toast I had with Iberico ham, imported from Spain, Manchego cheese, tomato, a poached egg and micro greens on a crusty piece of sourdough. Others, including hummus, avocado, pico, queso, red onion...and more. You get the picture. These toasts are delicious.
“We have people that spend $300 every three days here. I think we are their option if they don’t feel like leaving the island.” he says.
There are grab and go options that they are seeing people either have for dinner or taking out to the beach. Which is only a block away.
“That was part of our concept. When our kids go to the beach, they have fritos or ding dongs. Now you can show up with fruit and homemade hummus or maybe a pasta salad”
And then there’s the phenomenon that are those juices. Eight flavors for now. “A pound and a half of organic fruit per 12 ounces.” Frank says. “No water or sugar added. We put 25 out when we opened at 7:30am. 90 minutes later there were 5 left.”
By the time I got to the cooler a few minutes later, there were 3 left. Watermelon Mint was the flavor of the day. I didn’t try one, but I will share that they must be amazing. $8 for 12 ounces and they are still flying out the door.
Yeah, I’m guessing people are drinking and liking those.
Mi Vida is closed on Wednesdays for now, but otherwise they are as busy as you might imagine. Frank admits that they knew there was a demand, but what Mi Vida has become in just a month? No one expected that.
“We have a small staff. We are working on being more efficient, but yes we are overwhelmed.”
Good problem to have.