The following Cuba series was written by students enrolled in Independent Study: Cuban Hospitality and Tourism Industries, a one-week intensive course taking place in Cuba over the 2016 Spring Break. As a course assignment, students were required to submit blog posts to the Tisch Center Blog highlighting each day of the trip. The following post was written by Elizabeth Kim.
On Friday, we spent the evening dining in Malecón, Havana. At the paladar, which is a privately owned and independently operated restaurant, we received a warm welcoming from Dr. Omar Torres and his wonderful staff. Ropa viejas (shredded beef) and langostas (grilled lobsters), along with large portions of rice cooked in black beans, vegetables, and fruit were provided and our first dining experience in Cuba couldn’t have been better! The interior and exterior layout of the paladar and its architecture was beautiful. We were able to witness the authenticity of not only the food, but also with the aesthetics and design of the guesthouse.
After the meal, Dr. Omar Torres was generous enough to take the time and answer all our questions about the restaurant business in Cuba. One of the major limitations when it comes to running a paladar and making it profitable is the lack of accessibility to resources and supplies. This limitation was found across not only the restaurant business, but also across the entire hospitality sector. Efficiently and consistently marketing and advertising the restaurant was another limitation for the paladar business, especially the smaller ones.
Despite these challenges, he remains positive and optimistic about the future and is very hopeful for the changes that will come along with the potential end of the embargo.