Life, Culture and Travels from the perspective of a Cuban
New private-owned businesses in Trinidad, Cuba
Categories: Cuba Inside Out

Private business are notably flourishing in Cuba, particularly in the most touristic areas.

Places in Convertible Pesos (for tourists or Cubans who somehow can afford them):

cafe Don Pepe Trinidad Cuba

On my November trip to Cuba I spent some time discovering new places and also wondering how the owners manage to open and to run certain restaurants or bars across the city. Government establishments are now in great disadvantage with respects to the quality of the food, prices and service but private owners have to work really hard to keep the place busy and efficient.

In the town of Trinidad, the residents seem thrilled with the opportunity that has opened to them. I had the chance to talk to one of the family owners of “Cafe Don Pepe”, a friendly woman with a charming cafe in a quiet corner of the centre of the village, who mentioned that she bought the coffee machine in Spain and explained how she struggled to “enter” it through customs. You could see her face lighting up every time new customers were arriving and when a group of tourists got in to see the eye-catching  patio decoration she hoped out loud they would all stayed and have a drink.

Some of the places are so fancy that you could easily forget you are in sitting somewhere in Cuba. San Jose Restaurant (paladar, as they call it in Cuba) is an excellent example of a place that offers an incredible environment, menu and managed to stay full the few nights we visited it.

Restaurante San Jose Trinidad Cuba

On the streets, besides the usual “room for rent” offer, different business cards were handed out to us for a variety of activities: a veterinary technician was suggesting us to join him on a horse riding tour. At night, you can buy the famous canchánchara cocktail at the also private-owned stands along Cristo St.

Places in Cuban Pesos (a more affordable places for the majority):

private business in Cuba

No one can afford to go to paladares often. Even the Cubans who receive money from their families living abroad would go to “paladares” on special occasions like birthdays, graduations or anniversaries. I am referring to the Cubans without some shady business, a connection or a military rank, of course.

As soon you get out of the touristic part of Trinidad, you find these little business by the sidewalk (counters or stands that people set up at their house’s entrances) There are tons of them in Havana as well. They could offer pizza, sandwiches, juices, coffee or sweets. The prices in Trinidad were as low as $2.00 Cuban Pesos for a bun with cream cheese.

While we were staying in Trinidad, one of my friends would get up in the morning and buy breakfast for all of us from one of those places. On the second morning, the guy told him that he could not sell him more than 12 buns with cream cheese because then he would run out of bread and he would not be able to sell burguers and sandwiches later, that would bring him more profit that selling all the bread with cream cheese.

I am sure this guy would love to have endless buns in order to make all the profit he could in one day, but that is the way Cuba runs… at least for the moment.


Also published on Medium.

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