Ooh na-na: Havana’s celebrating a big birthday


Havana restaurant, home of the 24-hour cafecito window, maker of the local-favorite Cuban sandwich, greeter of many a passing celebrity, is celebrating a milestone birthday in September: 25 years.

That’s a quarter century of anchoring the most caffeinated corner of West Palm Beach, the southwestern patch of South Dixie Highway and Forest Hill Boulevard. 

The Cuban demitasse love is heard in the honks of regulars as they pass the “ventanita” in search of a parking spot. When the café window servers spot their regulars, they know it’s time to brew a fresh colada, says Vanessa Reyes, who grew up at the restaurant – her parents and maternal grandfather opened Havana in 1993 after the family lost a home in Hurricane Andrew

“Each shift, the [café-brewing] girls have their own customers. They met through the window,” says Reyes, now Havana’s chief operating officer and marketing director. “You have people who come around hang out for an hour and a half or so. That’s what we want the place to be.” 

Exiled from Cuba by a revolution and later exiled from Miami by a monster hurricane, Reyes’ grandfather, Roberto Reyes, and parents, Martha Reyes and Rafael Perez, built Havana on the site where a Royal Castle once stood. 

Her grandfather wasn’t a chef, notes Reyes. “He just loved to cook.” 

He also loved to pay homage to his mother’s dishes, the comfort food of his childhood. So, just as it was on opening day, Havana’s menu remains rooted in those family recipes. 

“The recipes were passed from one generation to the next,” says Reyes. “My parents are just exceptional workers and the major, major, major thing is that they give back to the community.” 

One way the family is giving back is by offering discounts for the first 25 days of September, one day for each year in business. The celebration wraps on Sept. 25 with a big party for Havana regulars at the recently renovated restaurant. 


HAVANA’S BIRTHDAY

Some birthday-deal highlights

  • Sept. 4 – BOGO café from 6 a.m. to noon 
  • Sept. 5 – Bags of mariquitas (plantain chips) for 25 cents 
  • Sept. 6 – Free flan when you spend $25 
  • Sept. 8 – Free 10-ounce juice when you check in on Facebook 
  • Sept. 9, 16 and 23 – Four-course meal for $25 
  • Sept. 12 – croquetas for a 25 cents (maximum 25) 
  • Sept. 18 – Grandpa’s chicken noodle soup for 25 cents (maximum 4) 

Havana: 6801 S. Dixie Highway (at Forest Hill), West Palm Beach; 561-547-9799


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