The “Savage Entrepreneurs” / Fernando Dámaso
Fernando Damaso, 21 September 2016 — The few state restaurants that
offer varied and quality menus, along with good service, have high
prices that are totally inaccessible for the average citizen. Entrees
costing 10, 12 or more Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC: worth roughly $1
each, in a country with an average monthly wage of around $20-$24).
Sandwiches are 5 CUC, side dishes 2 CUC and desserts 3-5 CUC. Domestic
beers are 1.50 and 2.50 CUC and soft drinks, also domestic, are 1 and
The phenomenon is the same in private establishments. Many of them
started off as more or less affordable, with prices more or less
accessible, good quality menus and also good service. Gradually they
have raised prices 50% and even 100%. So plates that used to cost 3 CUC
now cost 5, and those that used to cost 5 now cost 7 or 8 or even more.
With the drinks it’s even worse. A domestic beer that used to cost no
more than 1 CUC is now 1.50, 2 and 2.50. Domestic soft drinks that were
0.55 CUC are now 1 and 1.20.
Wines and spirits, it’s better not to talk about them, the prices have
skyrocketed. The same is true for desserts, which are never less than
1.50 CUC and even as much as 3 and 5 CUC, for just a wedge of cake.
These new businesspeople forgot the classic Cuban inn, where you could
eat well at affordable prices, and they only want to get rich overnight,
at the cost of emptying their customers’ pockets.
It is true that Cuba today is a difficult market, depreciated and
debased, where many new entrepreneurs, “knife in hand,” are ready to
flay anyone in front of them, but this, necessarily, will change and
some honest and responsible restauranteurs will prevail, earning
reasonable profits and offering quality food and good service, and
gaining the esteem and fidelity of their customers. This, no doubt, will
earn their establishments a name and prestige, as well as profits.
El Floridita, Monseñor, El Castillo de Farnés, La Zaragozana, La
Bodeguita del Medio, El Emperador, Europa, El Centro Vasco, Rancho Luna,
El Polinesio, Mandarín, Hong Kong, Wakamba, La Cibeles, América and many
other restaurants and cafes were not famous for their high prices, but
for the quality of their offerings and their magnificent service, where
there were respectful relationships between owners and customers. This
must also be present among the new “savage entrepreneurs.”
Source: The “Savage Entrepreneurs” / Fernando Dámaso – Translating Cuba