Once upon a time at La Guarida #CubaInsider

~ January 5, 2015 ~

The story started in 1993 when Juan Carlos Tabío and Tomás Gutiérrez Alea decided to produce Strawberry and Chocolate (Fresa Y Chocolate), scripted by renowned Cuban writer Senel Paz.

The Assistant Director at the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC) was looking for a house to shoot the movie. He started this investigation speaking with his family and friends. Listening to the speech, his friend Enrique imagined that his parents’ house was the perfect place they were expecting. In order to help his friend, Enrique proposed him to go to see the house. That is how the house where Enrique was born became the Diego’s “Guarida” (hideout), the main character the movie.


Then, on a Sunday in 1995, a couple of Japanese knocked on the door. They wanted to discover the famous Diego’s house, then came other Americans and then others… after ten visits, Enrique realized that something important was happening here. Strawberry and Chocolate won a lot of awards and is the only Cuban movie in history that have been nominated for the Oscar. The movie became one of the most internationally famous Cuban films. He told his family that he had the idea to create a restaurant for people who came to look for Diego’s Guarida. Enrique and his wife Odeysis didn’t think just about a restaurant, but the real hideout of Strawberry and Chocolate.


Enrique y Odeysis

They would create a space where customers could enjoy the best of Cuban art with music by Bola de Nieve, Rita Montaner or Lecuona. They would use linen yarn and alpaca cutlery with 50’s glasses as Diego chose to honor David in his lunch.

And this is how La Guarida was founded, from the modest familial house to the current iconic place of Havana.  Since the beginning, the restaurant has been evolving at the pace of the Cuban Laws. In 1995, private restaurants that people called “paladares” had many restrictions. For instance, they couldn’t sell seafood or beef, they had to employ only immediate family, and there was a limited number of clients: 12 maximum! Despite these restrictions, amazing people like Queen Sofia of Spain, Jack Nicolson, Sting and many others went to La Guarida. The food is excellent, the atmosphere is magic and people are awesome. It is thus not surprising that La Guarida obtained important international awards, recognition by the specialists and the most important: customers’ gratitude.

In 2009, a new law allowed to recruit any staff and to serve any food, with less restrictions regarding the number of clients. La Guarida successfully adapted the restaurant to these new possibilities keeping the same authentic spirit. Javier Bardem, Gérard Depardieu, Jay Z and Beyonce etc. join the stars’ list who had been to La Guarida; the wall is nearing capacity for their pictures! image

This year, for the centenary of the building and the 20 years of Strawberry and Chocolate, La Guarida launches a big renovation project and a construction of a rooftop. They started to repair the building of La Guarida valued as a heritage, social and cultural place. Enrique and Odeysis banish the old conventional proverb “nothing to nobody and nobody cares for nothing.”



The rooftop isopening soon! Look how beautiful it is:

Oh, and the rooftop concept is awesome, I had to write an article about this! But that’s another story, I will tell you about it next time… 🙂

Tomado de : The Havana Club Gap Year