Ribbon cutting at Havana Cafe and Restaurant…

HAVANA MEETS THE HEIGHTS! Seaside Heights Mayor Hershey, along with Councilwomen Agnes Polhemus, Joyce Camera, and Arline Ottoson and Maria Maruca of the Seaside Heights Business Improvement District help cut the ribbon at The Havan Cafe and Restaurant, featuring authentic Cuban cuisine and sandwiches. Havana Cafe owners are George Lugo, furthest to left in the front row, and Luis Linares to his immediate right.

Ribbon cut at Havana Cafe & Restaurant: Dignitaries from Seaside Heights gathered to cut the ribbon at the Havana Cafe and Restaurant, located at 18 Boulevard in Seaside Heights. The Havana is located in the former “Barney’s” building. Barney’s was a famous local breakfast spot, and operated from 1932-1990, according to landlord Michael Loundy, who recently purchased back the building, which had been in his family for decades. Havana owners George Lugo and Luis Linares are both of Cuban descent. George already owns a business in Bloomfield, called Havana Sandwiches, where Luis was his longtime customer. A Cuban sandwich consists of fresh ham, pork, pickles, swiss cheese, mustard, butter and a top secret Cuban sauce that gives the sandwich its “mojo”. Authentic Cuban flat bread is imported from Union City for George’s special recipe. Cuban sandwiches first became popular in Tampa, Florida, and later Miami. The sandwiches are available in those cities at every corner store, sort of like a Philly Cheesesteak in this area. Luis is a property owner in Seaside Heights, half owner of a 2-family home on Hamilton Avenue. Luis says he loves Seaside Heights, and wanted to bring here Cuban flavor and the associated family atmosphere. The restaurant was decorated by Esther Gatria, and its color and art are all authentic, from pre-Castro Cuba. One of the pieces of framed art on the walls of the Havana is an old 100-pound sack from a Cuban sugar refinery. Luis says that when his 85-year old father saw this item, he immediately recognized the brand name of the Compania Azucarera Central Toledo. It turns out that the elder Mr. Linares sold sugar cane from his plantation to this very company for many years back in the old country.

Luis Linares, co-owner of Havana Cafe and Restaurant, displayed this old Cuban sugar sack as framed art on the restaurant wall, only to realize later that his own father sold sugar cane to this very refinery back in the old country.

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