Cuban American community in Louisville, KY growing and thriving

My dad always used to say that donde quiera caiga un cubano, siempre echa pa’lante (wherever a Cuban lands, they always succeed). And that seems to be the case in Louisville, Kentucky.

Via Louisville’s Courier-Journal:

Opinion: Louisville’s Cuban population is growing. Here are 2 refugees’ stories of triumph

When The Encyclopedia of Louisville came out in 1998, the entry for CUBANS (which I contributed) stated that their population around here was about 5,108. Since then, the stream of Cuban refugees to Louisville has grown to be a river.

As of 2016, the number of Cuban-born residents in Jefferson County stood at approximately 9,190, making it number 12 among American metropolitan areas. The migratory river keeps flowing, gaining volume as conditions on their home island keep worsening. The 2020 U.S. Census will show that many thousands more Cubans reside here now.

When I researched my encyclopedia entry, there was not a single Cuban restaurant in this notable foodie city. Today, according to the summer issue of Food and Dining: Louisville Edition, we have nine from which to choose.

The El Kentubano free monthly publication has fattened during the 12 years it has been available, mainly with advertisements from Cuban-owned enterprises from here to Lexington. The July issue weighed in at 92 pages.

My copy of El Kentubano came from Havana Rumba, the first eatery serving Cuban cuisine in the county. The man behind the restaurant, Marcos Lorenzo, came to the United States in 2000, and opened Havana Rumba in St. Matthews in 2004.

His aim was to offer diners “a celebration of the culinary genius of Cuba.” Havana Rumba was a success. Soon, Lorenzo branched out into a new concept, Mojito Tapas Restaurant in Holiday Manor, which caught on even more quickly, because by then, the gourmets and Hispanophiles in town knew all about Havana Rumba.

Lorenzo had a friend named Joel Toste. He arrived here in 1998, without many words of English in his vocabulary, but he didn’t need many to do a great job washing dishes at The Galt House.

Joel worked and saved and worked and saved and attended college classes in English and Business at Jefferson Community and Technical College, and worked more, and saved more… Lorenzo, knowing his friend was industrious, intelligent and thrifty, asked him if he’d like to invest in another location of Havana Rumba, this one at Douglass Loop on Bardstown Road in The Highlands. (That neighborhood is kind of a big deal.) Joel answered, “Por supuesto que sí!,” roughly translated as “Heck, yeah!” Havana Rumba and Tapas Bar boomed as soon as he put out the open sign.

Continue reading HERE.