"This beloved Italian restaurant on the Miami River was just sold. Here’s what we know

Miami Restaurant

When Miami wants pizza and some of the best chicken parm around, Miami heads to the nationally famous restaurant Crust — where guests not only indulge in huge helpings of comfort food but also warm and graceful hospitality.

Now, the popular restaurant close to the Miami River has been sold.

On Tuesday evening, owners Klime and Anita Kovaceski announced they sold the business on July 1.

“After much thought, Anita and I have decided it is time to make a change that we feel is for the better — for us, our families, our employees, and our beloved guests,” the statement said. “We wholeheartedly believe that the new owner and the entire Crust team who are staying on will continue to keep our legacy of great food and hospitality alive.

“While you may not regularly see us on premise, we will continue to offer consultation and support Crust operationally when needed.”

The Kovaceskis, who opened the restaurant in 2015 after converting the building from a former Sherwin-Williams paint store, declined to talk about who purchased the restaurant. But their statement indicates that life (and pizza) will go on at the restaurant (even if it must continue without Anita’s affable greetings to every guest).

Kovaceski, who says he is happy about the sale, says that the employees will remain on the staff, cooking the Italian specialties he created (Kovaceski is proudly Macedonian, and once told the Miami Herald that was helpful to him as a chef: “I don’t have to do my grandmother’s recipe. Sometimes not being authentic to the region is a good thing”).

Chris Maurice, who had been working as Anita Kovaceski’s assistant and has been with Crust since it opened, will be the restaurant’s new general manager.

The new team is making minor adjustments to the menu, Kovaceski says, but adds that about 90 percent of the menu will still be offered, including the beloved and gigantic chicken parm, which has been heralded as one of the best chicken parms in the United States. The pizza at Crust was named one of the best in the country in 2022 by Yelp.

As for Kovaceski, he’ll stay busy with his restaurant consulting business, although he’s thinking about taking a vacation first.

“I haven’t had a vacation for nine years. I’m definitely taking some free time. Fifteen years from now I’ll be 78, and just like Biden and Trump, I also want to be president,” he joked. “I’ll run for president of Macedonia. So until then, in these next 15 years, I’m going be in the hospitality industry, it’s in my blood, and that’s what I have done all of my life.”

Basil Leaf

Where: 668 NW Fifth St.,
Miami Hours: 4-10 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday; closed Monday and Tuesday
Information and orders: crust-usa.com or 305-371-7065

- The Miami Herald - July 2023

"Famed Pizza Power Couple Sells Their Beloved Miami Restaurant"

Miami Restaurant

After eight years at Crust, Anita and Klime Kovaceski are ready for new culinary adventures—and maybe a few days off.

After exceeding guests’ expectations at one of Miami’s most celebrated pizza restaurants for eight years, Klime and Anita Kovaceski, the founders of Crust, have done the unexpected: They’ve sold it.

The famed pizza power couple went public with the move on July 18. “After much thought, Anita and I have decided it is time to make a change that we feel is for the better—for us, our families, our employees and our beloved guests,” Klime said in a statement. “On July 1, we sold Crust. We wholeheartedly believe that the new owner and the entire Crust team who are staying on will continue to keep our legacy of great food and hospitality alive.”

Why are the Kovaceskis leaving now? Simply put, they need a break, Klime told PMQ. “I sold Crust because I haven’t taken a vacation for nine years—with one year of construction and eight years in business,” he said. “All these years, I locked the front door every time myself. That’s how I do business. Now between projects, I’ll try to have a real day or three off every several months, or even a thing called a vacation, once in several years.”

The Kovaceskis, both originally from Macedonia, were featured on the cover of PMQ Pizza Magazine’s April 2018 issue. “Crust embodies hospitality at its finest—the kind of place where everyone feels like a VIP, where problems find solutions before complaints clamor from disgruntled diners, where success looks deceptively simple,” PMQ reported at the time. “That is, until you scratch the surface of the duo’s genius and find that the devil is in the details.”

The Wall Street Journal dissected the Kovaceskis’ formula for success in a full-page story in 2017. Crust made Yelp’s nationwide list of the “Top 100 Places to Eat” in 2022 and 2023, in addition to numerous other national and state honors.


The Kovaceskis opened the upscale pizza concept in a former Sherwin-Williams paint store in June 2015, with Klime running the kitchen while Anita greeted every customer warmly at the door. “She treats people like they’re in her house and can charm anyone all day long,” Klime told PMQ in 2018.

In late 2020, the Kovaceskis opened a second concept, Crust2Go, with a focus on carryout. Klime said he will still own Crust2Go and has plans underway for new restaurant concepts.

Due to a confidentiality agreement, Klime can’t reveal the identity of Crust’s new owner. But he said the entire front-of-house and back-of-house staff remain on board, and Christmyrr (Chris) Maurice, who has been with the Crust team since its inception, has been promoted to general manager. “For the most part, the menu will carry on as is,” he added.

In his younger days in Macedonia, Klime worked as executive chef at a high-end hotel, where he served presidents and dignitaries. And who knows? Maybe he’ll return to his home country one day and pursue a new career. “So, 15 years from now I’ll be 78, and, just like Biden and Trump, I also want to be president,” he joked to PMQ. “I’ll run for president of Macedonia. Until then, in these next 15 years, I’m going be in the hospitality industry. It’s in my blood, and that’s what I have done all of my life.”

- PMQ Pizza Magazine - July 2023


"CRUST to Expand With Takeaway Concept"


Klime and Anita Kovaceski are expanding into the carry-out business. The husband-wife team behind CRUST will open a new takeout concept and market they've dubbed CRUST2go.

"We always had the idea for carry-out as a bigger component to CRUST in the backburner," Kovaceski tells New Times. "But COVID-19 has changed the way people eat and do things to the point that, even when this is all behind us, I believe that a big portion of the restaurant business will remain based on off-site dining experiences. People will get used to the convenience."

The current real estate market made it a propitious time to act, Kovaceski adds.

"CRUST is known for its location and service, and I don't want to change that even though I believe 50 percent of our sales from now on will be based on takeaway," he says. "But with so much commercial real estate available at the moment, a separate carry-out concept makes sense."

Kovaceski is no stranger to the to-go universe. The Macedonian chef has been a Miami resident since 1984, when he arrived to open the first U.S. outpost of Eastern-European eatery Jama. Ten years later, he opened his own restaurant, Crystal Café in Miami Beach. After serving modern takes on Old World classics for a decade, Kovaceski sold Crystal Café, took up consulting, and eventually landed at New River Pizza & Grill, a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, where takeout and delivery accounted for about 85 percent of sales.

CRUST (668 NW Fifth St., Miami; 305-371-7065), his 2,400-square-foot Italian restaurant in the Miami River district, has been in operation since 2015. It made OpenTable’s 2019 "Top 100 Restaurants in America" list and was named in the Daily Meal's 2020 list of "The 101 Best Pizzas in America."

When the pandemic descended in March, Kovaceski was well prepared to pivot to takeout.

He says CRUST's delivery service was already generating $16,000 a month in revenue but jumped to $65,000 a month. But takeout was a game-changer too, skyrocketing sevenfold from a pre-pandemic monthly average of $5,000 to $35,000.

Kovaceski says CRUST2go will operate with neither dining room nor waiters. "It's a smaller, very casual café-like space, with food designed to be put in containers and an area where our customers can sit down somewhere and eat straight from the pizza boxes," he says.

The takeaway menu will feature CRUST's family-sized pasta options, salads, meatballs, and risotto. Pizza will be offered in two sizes — the original 12-inch plus a 16-inch version — in options including Margherita, Hawaiian, and a surf-and-turf pie that's topped with shrimp, prosciutto, pepperoni, and shaved Parmesan.

The Kovaceskis intend to reopen CRUST for dine-in service in two or three weeks. CRUST2go is slated to debut by the end of the year, but they're taking their time picking out a location.

"The most important thing is to do it right — to find a place that offers parking, an informal area for those looking to dine on-site, and easy access for customers to pick up their food," Klime says.

"It took two years to find our first location," he adds, "but it worked just as we wanted it."

- Miami New Times - 2020