Cubana, which has its first site in Waterloo, has secured a 3000sq.ft second site in Charterhouse Street. The restaurant and bar venue serves Latin American food and is well-known for its cocktails and late night Cuban music.
With the second venue the team aims to do something a little different and incorporate a coffee roaster that will be run in conjunction with the new Cuban coffee brand Alma de Cuba.
Owner and founder of Cubana Waterloo Phillip Oppenheim talked to BigHospitality about his plans for the second venue in Smithfield and why he had chosen now as the time to expand the business.
He said: “We have thought about opening another site for some time but we’ve been cautious as good sites are not in high supply. We found this site four years ago and have been working through the complications of planning and licensing patiently with the City. We feel that Cubana is a very different and authentic offer and we have no pretentions of becoming another me-too chain offering mediocre, pre-prepared food, but we do think there is scope for a small group of Cubana bar-restaurants.
“Smithfield has a great demographic for us, mainly workplace based with good residential influx at weekends. There are also good public transport links and outside seating at the site. It’s close to the current Cubana too, which is helpful from the management viewpoint for a second opening.”
Oppenheim described the atmosphere in the new Cubana as being like an ‘old Havana mansion with some modern twists’.
He said: “The site will have a large, retractable, glass roof area so when customers come in it will be a bit like entering a Havana street. The coffee shop and roaster will be to their right and as they come further it will be like a courtyard opening up into the cafe and open kitchen and bakery area.”
Coffee and tropical flavours
The new coffee offering is one of the key differences between the new Smithfield Cubana and the Waterloo venture, but there are other additions as well, including an artisan bakery, a gelateria, and a paleteria where Mexican-style fruit ice lollies will be created.
“Because of our involvement in the Alma de Cuba gourmet Cuban coffee business, there was the option of changing the format slightly to include a coffee roastery, a top class coffee shop and a bakery,” said Oppenheim.
“We do bake our own bread at Cubana in Waterloo, but our space is limited and at Smithfield we will offer a full range of sourdough breads, Latin American pastries and more, as well as a Latin American gelateria majoring on tropical flavours.
“This site will be slightly more food and cafe oriented than Cubana Waterloo and slightly less bar led. We will have a mojito bar, but the coffee will lead, alongside a bakery-oriented café.”
Cubana Smithfield will serve Cuban style street food at lunchtimes, and from early until late it will offer tapas dishes, salads and snacks that will also be available for takeaway. The team intend to prepare everything fresh and use free range ingredients.
When asked what will make Cubana Smithfield stand out, Oppenheim said: “Freshly prepared, different and original food created using free range ingredients, allied to the best mojitos and fresh tropical smoothies. Then there’s a great bakery, gelateria and paladeria and, of course, the best Cuban mountain coffee that comes with the theatre, aromas and freshness of a coffee roaster. There will be nowhere else like it.”