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Why I am grateful for Cuba, Part 2

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In 1998, we opened Union Pacific with Rocco Dispirito.

We worked tirelessly to get the restaurant up and running and it truly was a beautiful restaurant that served amazing food.

About 6 months into the project, one of our managers, who I became friendly with, was telling me about a girl he met in Cuba and wanted to bring her to The United States and marry her.

I had a three day break and told him, that I would be happy to go to Cuba and vet her, for him.

I booked a flight to Cancun and when I landed, I then went to a small kiosk to buy my round trip ticket to Havana.

The plane to Havana was tiny and you could actually see the cold air from the air conditioning coming up from the floors.

We took off and 45 minutes later, landed in Havana, Cuba.

There were plenty of taxis at the Airport.

I was staying in Havana Vieja, in someone’s home at Peña Pobre, for $20.00 per night.

I instantly realized I was in a time capsule that stopped in 1959.

The American Cars from 1959 and only American cars prior to 1959.

The music playing in the streets, the colorful homes, the people and the Art.

I was in a very special place.

I met the girl that my friend was in love with and approved of her.

She later met a man who had more money than my friend, so my friend lost out.

On my second day I was sitting on the Malecon is the famous boulevard in Havana Vieja Cuba, and listening to music and loving every second of it., when all of a sudden, I had an epiphany.

We had a very large restaurant at 446 Columbus avenue, called Main Street. Think Carmines, but American family style.

It was doing ok, but not great.

Within seconds I said to myself, we need to close Main Street and open a latin restaurtant, called Calle Ocho, with great food, great music, a great chef and a festive vibe.

This is why I am grateful for Cuba!