Reports from Cuba: Most expensive ice cream shop in Havana opens its Christmas store

Juan Diego Rodriguez reports in 14yMedio from Havana via Translating Cuba:

The Most Expensive Ice Cream Shop in Havana Opens Its Store for Christmas

Bright and well stocked, the ice cream shop replaces the old BimBom at the gates of the Malecón.

Christmas has brought a gift in advance for those who can afford it, like everything today, in the frustrated revolutionary utopia. Bueníssimo Soderia Gourmet, the new ice cream-sweet shop that succeeds the old BimBom in the Havana neighborhood of El Vedado opened its doors this Wednesday, two months after beginning sales from a cart in front of the premises, on Infanta and 23, then under construction.

“They have made it very beautiful, very beautiful,” said Rachel, a customer attracted by the Christmas atmosphere and the dedicated workers, dressed in reindeer hats, and Santa Claus himself, who approached the door to stop the curious from pushing. “It’s already open, you can now come in,” they were kindly urged from the street.

The refrigerators with rotating sweets caught everyone’s attention, until they saw the prices.

Decorated in black and white, the glass refrigerators stood out with spinning cakes and desserts, all very bright and well air-conditioned. “You can see that they use a lot of quality ingredients,” Rachel said. “Everything looks good and tastes good, too!” She exclaimed, highlighting how delicious the ice cream was. Her bill: 955 pesos for a glass dish with three scoops, served in an oval shape with a little syrup and a vanilla cupcake (panqué).

Attractiveness and novelty played a part in the premiere of the Bueníssimo Soderia Gourmet, which has adopted as its motto Esto Está Bueníssimo (This is really good), which shines on its facade. Inside you could see quite a few customers, and many  were shocked to see the price range. One scoop of ice cream, which in October sold in a paper cone on the ground level for 195 pesos, rises now, inside the premises, to 220 pesos, and this is the most economical item. Most of the sweets, some tiny, exceed 200 pesos, and others cost 700, like the tocinillo del cielo, a pudding made with egg yolk and syrup.

“Well, nowadays everything is like this, prices through the stratosphere,” said a customer who was waiting for his turn to order. “I can imagine the investment that those people have made here. They have made it very nice; to be honest, they can’t charge cheaper than that, I guess,” he said with resignation. The experience, he explained later, was worth it, because the quality is higher than its closest competitor on the street, Monte Freddo.

The ice cream, he explained to 14ymedio, is somewhat cheaper there, 400 pesos for two scoops, but not as good in terms of originality and taste. “The desserts here are different; I haven’t seen them anywhere else. The ice cream is the Italian type, with flavors that are not tropical.” Stracciatella and amareto alternate with traditional chocolate and strawberry, either in a cone or in a glass dish.

The workers, in Christmas outfits, go out to invite the curious to stop by.

“Look, I’m sick,” Mario, a client on a medical diet after a recent illness explained to the saleswoman. “I can’t eat anything that has cream, custard, none of those things. The sweet has to be as simple as possible, without additives, without any filling,” he explained. “The employee was quite kind and recommended everything to me,” he told 14ymedio after finishing his sweet, a small caprice after several days in a hospital.

Accustomed to the shortages of state shops and the laziness of their employees, the people were thankful for the new place, revived under private management in an environment that took wings in the 90s, when young people and the LGBTI group began to frequent this area between the Malecón and 23rd Street, making it a meeting point of the capital.

The BimBom, which occupied the premises until the pandemic and the Ordering Task* finished off the city’s idleness, has found a successor that is made to the new measure of Havana: for the newly rich and tourists.

*Translator’s note The  Ordering Task is a collection of measures that included eliminating the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), leaving the Cuban peso (CUP) as the only national currency, raising prices, raising salaries (but not as much as prices), opening stores that take payment only in hard currency, which must be in the form of specially issued pre-paid debit cards, and a broad range of other measures targeted to different elements of the Cuban economy. 

Translated by Regina Anavy

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