Viva la Revolución! As Belfast’s first Cuban café opens

It was Fiesta time in Belfast as revolutionary new Café Havana in Berry Street opened its doors today (Monday, July 1).

It is a much-needed boost for the city as the new establishment has created 12 full-time and up to six part-time jobs.

Café  Havana is open from 8am to 6pm on Monday to Wednesday, 8am to 11pm from Thursday to Saturday and 10am to 5pm on Sundays, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu  includes a mixture of Cuban, Latin American and European favourites. The Restaurant is operating a value for money, BYO policy.

The strikingly decorated restaurant – the first ever Cuban-inspired eatery in Belfast – is owned by Patrick Magowan and Patrick Magee, who run the high concept Café PM and interior design business, Off the Wall Creations at Jennymount Business Park in the Shore Road area of the city.

Mr Magowan said: “There is nothing else quite like this in Belfast. When our customers enter Café Havana we want them to be transported to the unique atmosphere and beautiful, faded grandeur of downtown Havana.

“From our Cuban-inspired wall murals, table tops, rustic bronze ceiling with Cuban tiles, everything is geared to giving the people of Belfast a taste of the culture of another one of the world’s great cities.”

The 60-seater café has a mixture of booths, tables, stamped with images of Cuba and old fashioned chesterfield-style upholstery, giving it a retro-revolutionary Havana feel. The spirits of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and the elderly musicians of the Buena Vista Social Club permeate every corner of the room.

This new venture is being managed by Kerri Sittlington, who worked for the Hastings Group in the Cultra Inn at the Culloden Hotel and the Percy French restaurant at the Slieve Donard before teaching catering and hospitality for the Babcock International group.

Kerri, who began her career as a chef, is excited by the challenge of bringing a new concept in eating out and entertainment to Belfast.

She said: “Belfast has been identified as one of the top destinations to visit. There is a real buzz in the city among locals and tourists alike and Café Havana will be at the heart of this renaissance.

“With its combination of colour, arty décor and above all, great food, Café Havana is a real treat for the senses and is destined to add to Belfast’s burgeoning culinary and entertainment scene.”

Café Havana’s head chef is Declan Casey, who formerly worked in Deane’s and The Bureau Café and Bar in Whiteabbey.

He said: “Our idea is create simple delicious dishes that people will find memorable and will want to come back for more. We will be changing our menus regularly so there will be plenty of experimentation with Cuban dishes, a new experience for the people of Belfast.”

On Saturday night a large crowd of invited family and friends were treated to the intoxicating rhythms of Salsa music and dance and the exotic tastes of Cuban food and cocktails at Belfast’s very own ‘Latin Quarter’.

Last week, the café got the seal of approval from the Cuban Ambassador to Ireland, Ms Teresita Trujillo as she paid a surprise visit to view work in progress. Ms Trujillo, who put the owners in touch with the distributors of Cuban drinks, has been invited back for a special reception.

Café Havana is at 56-58 Berry Street behind CastleCourt Shopping Centre. For more informationor bookings call the restaurant on 02890 310809. Check out Café Havana’s new Facebook Page – or Twitter @CafeHavanaBlfst