Monday, October 26, 2020

Getting Back to Business


Havana Café team on opening day. Submitted Photo

Havana Café team on opening day. Submitted Photo

Havana Café of the Everglades has reopened for season, right on schedule! As you drive through Everglades City and pass over the bridge to Chokoloskee Island, you’ll pass piles of hurricane debris, but “Don’t be afraid to come down to Chokoloskee Island. We’re ready!” said owner Dulce Valdes. “We are here, we are ready to rock the season down,” added co-owner Carlos Valdes.

After Hurricane Irma pushed a nearly nine-foot surge of water upon Chokoloskee Island, the Havana Café team started the season with the task of clean-up. Power washing muck, clearing downed vegetation and the repair of kitchen equipment, all within about a three-week time frame was a labor of love and community building. When Havana Café opened its kitchen and patio on October 15, the stream of people demonstrated the value of neighbors helping each other is what keeps old Florida strong.

You would think that devastation would be enough to make people want to quit or to stay away. But, Pam, who is beginning her fourth season with the Café, said it best: “I do it for Dulce and Carlos. They are lovely people and their generosity is unbelievable. They always do the ‘right’ thing for their business, their family and for their employees, even at their own expense.” The stream of visitors during the first week and the overwhelming number of congratulatory comments on their Facebook page was touching evidence that people truly love Havana Café.

Havana Café is known for their authentic Cuban, home-cooked food that is served on a beautiful outdoor patio surrounded by tropical plants. On opening day, the smell of fresh coffee, breakfast and Cuban sandwiches filled the air. Kip, a cook who recently relocated from Rhode Island, said he had been there only nine days and was enjoying Carlos’ creativity using Cuban herbs and spices. “The home-cooked food is prepared from scratch with fresh ingredients and herbs. It’s a joy preparing real food from scratch – you just don’t find that anymore.”

The patio survived, and the tropical trees, plants and flowers have already regrown and are green and lush. “It’s something about the oyster shells on Chokoloskee Island, they just make everything beautiful” Dulce said with a warm smile. “I just look at the patio and think, you are always so good to me.”

Havana Café is located at 191 Smallwood Drive, Chokoloskee Island. The restaurant is open seven days a week from 7 AM – 3 PM.

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