Hurricane Andrew blew them from Miami to West Palm Beach, where they opened Havana restaurant at the corner of South Dixie Highway and Forest Hill Boulevard in 1992.
Today, Marta Reyes’ and Rafael Perez’ eatery serves 900 people a day in its 80-seat dining room, and at its all-day-and-night walk-up window.
Now the restaurant is getting a new look, with a $250,000 project to rebuild its façade in the style of old Havana. Prep work began this week for the project, which Perez expects will be completed in six months – while the restaurant remains open.
The project is being done with the help of a $75,000 grant from a city façade improvement program, with an eye toward beautifying West Palm Beach’s South End, particularly the strip along South Dixie.
The project has been a couple of years in the planning, Perez said Wednesday. The restaurant obtained permits for the work but had to wait and extend the permits while the city lined up the grant program.
The building, built in 1958, once housed a Royal Castle hamburger restaurant, then a Jeans Etc. shop, a mattress store and a steak house.
With the façade project, the exterior will gain about 8 feet in height, rising to about 18 feet total, and will have several faux balconies with wrought-iron railings on the second story of its South Dixie and Forest Hill frontage. An awning will wrap around the corner, over the walk-up window.
The project won’t touch the interior, which previously was renovated. Improvements will be made to clean up the look of the rear of the restaurant, which faces its parking lot.
The restaurant stays busy all year-‘round, with customers frequently lining up for 45 minutes to an hour on weekends for its Cuban specialties and fresh-baked pastries.
Having window service with a full menu 24-7, 365 days a year, has created a loyal following of restaurant workers, hospital employees and police from several agencies, and even Modern Family actress Sofia Vergara was spotted there this year.
“You get hungry in the middle of the night, we’re here,” Perez said.
Have a news tip or issue of concern? Contact Staff Writer Tony Doris at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-820-4703.