Three "Paladares" Closed Were Among The Best Restaurants In Havana
14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 16 June 2017 – The closure of three
private restaurants in Havana last week has sparked doubts among owners
of food service businesses. The fact that the three paladares – private
restaurants – were rated "excellent" on Trip Advisor, one of the most
important travel sites on the web, has fueled fears that the authorities
are acting against the more prosperous businesses.
The police closed El Litoral, Dolce Vita and Lungo Mare, all located in
the Vedado neighborhood, after a high-profile operation and the seizure
of many goods, 14ymedio was able to confirm.
Alejandro Marcel Mendevil, the visible face of El Litoral, which
operates under the name of his mother, Nardis Francisca Mendivil, had
previously had legal problems when working for a company linked to the
Ministry of Tourism, according to an employee of the place who preferred
to remain anonymous. On that occasion he was "under investigation with
other employees" for an alleged diversion of resources detected in the
entity, which operated with foreign capital.
That investigation ended without charges but according to the same
employee "the suspicion clung to him that he was laundering the
embezzled money through El Litoral."
Nardis Francisca Mendivil, legal owner of El Litoral, refuses to talk to
the press so as not to harm her son, who is imprisoned in 100 and Aldabó
and subject to a warning from State Security, but she does deny the
version published by some media according to which he was the proprietor
of the three closed paladares.
"We have nothing to do with Lungo Mare," said the mother of the
detainee. Other sources stated that her son also managed that paladar at
one time, but had sold it "a few months ago."
In addition, Señora Mendival complains that it is not the first time
that they have tried to impute false crimes to her son; in the past he
was accused of the death of a police officer who, according to Señora
Mendival, shot "himself in a patrol car," a few yards from the restaurant.
The closing of the restaurants took place after an exhaustive search by
the Technical Department of Investigations in cooperation with police
The news of what happened circulated through emails in the Cubapaladar
newsletter on food service businesses. Its organizers were quick to
remove the premises from their list of recommendations and asserted that
they will never include an establishment that is "under a legal
investigation or involved in any case that violates any Cuban law."
This Thursday, an improvised sign with the word "Closed" was the only
visible sign to customers at door of number 161 Malecón between K and L
where until recently the El Litoral was overflowing with activity. The
area is now deserted.
The operation and the confiscation of numerous belongings from the
premises were the subject of comments from the whole neighborhood. "I
saw many things: air conditioners, drinks of different brands they had
in the cellar, chairs, tables, they even took the cutlery away," says a
According to an employee who spoke to 14ymedio, agents also took
everything that was in the basement where a new space was going to be
inaugurated for "tasting exquisite drinks and Cuban cigars."
The site, with a wide-ranging menu specializing in seafood and fish,
soon became a emblem of the new era for Cuban entrepreneurship after the
flexibilizations for the self-employed sector promoted by Raúl Castro's
Government as of 2010.
"From the moment you walked through the door, you felt that you were not
in Cuba because of the variety of dishes and the efficiency of the
service," says Grégory, a Frenchman who has visited Cuba more than a
dozen times in the past decade, where he has "two daughters and many
However, those times of bonanza and glamor seem to have ended in the
large house with a view directly to the sea.
The scene at El Litoral is repeated in the restaurant Dolce Vita,
specializing in Mediterranean food and also located on Havana's
Malecón. The restaurant, which was a bustle of waiters and customers, is
now closed, lock stock and barrel.
At the corner of Calle 1a and C, in Vedado, silence has also taken over
the outside terrace and the interior area of Lungo Mare. Underneath
its distinctive red and white striped awning there is no longer the
noise of the silverware or the clinking of the glasses. "This is dead
and it will take a long time for it to rise again," jokes a newspaper
salesman who mourns the situation.
"The whole neighborhood benefited from this restaurant because many
people came and I could sell some of my newspapers at a slightly better
price," he explains.
"This happened because it stood out a lot," says Luis Carlos, a young
man who delivers agricultural products for several restaurants in the
area. "El Litoral became a reference point and many foreigners and
diplomats came," he explains. "Here they sold the best croquettes in
Havana and that's not a joke."
No other private restaurant or coffee shop owner in the area has wanted
to comment on the case.
Source: Three "Paladares" Closed Were Among The Best Restaurants In
Havana – Translating Cuba -