MANATEE -- After eight years as a Cuban mainstay in Bradenton, Jose Baserva has decided to close Jose's Real Cuban Food and sell to another restaurant owner.
Baserva said health issues were the main factor in his decision to close the restaurant, which was once featured on Guy Fieri's "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" on the Food Network.
In November, Baserva said he woke up at 1 a.m. and walked into his kitchen to take an antacid. The next thing he remembers is waking up on the floor to his wife screaming, "Oh my God!"
"When I woke up, I said: 'Relax,'" Baserva said. "I was already feeling a little awkward, but I ended up going back to bed."
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He resumed life as usual until a couple of days later when he went to work and realized the way he felt just
"I don't know what you want to call it; I was just out there," Baserva said. "I knew I was in trouble before anybody else knew it."
He decided to go to the hospital and an hour after arrival, he entered a drug-induced coma for 10 days. The doctors found a triple fracture in Baserva's skull, and he said he hasn't felt the same since.
After spending about three more weeks in the hospital, he was able to return to work.
Issues with employees also contributed to his decision to close, he said.
"They don't go that extra mile now because we were so successful, you know?"
Gene Cosklo, owner of the building housing Jose's, said he's known Baserva for 10 years and before his health started to decline, he never had any issues with him as a tenant.
"He's always paid me," Cosklo said. "He's had some bad times."
Other issues also may have contributed to Baserva's decision.
Cosklo said the property never had any pest problems in the time he's owned it. But recently the restaurant eradicated a roach infestation, which closed it temporarily for a couple of weeks.
Inspectors from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation's Division of Hotels and Restaurants found live roaches during six different inspections, beginning with a Feb. 24 inspection. Jose's Real Cuban Food was closed temporarily but reopened Feb. 25, only to be closed about a month later for the same reason.
The restaurant failed five follow-up inspections because of "live roaches found," according to reports. After he and his staff attempted to clean and remove the pests themselves, Baserva hired a professional exterminator to take care of the problem. He was able to reopen April 14.
Baserva is also dealing with a lawsuit filed against him by Gordon Food Service Inc. The food supply company filed a complaint in the Manatee County Court on Feb. 12 claiming Baserva owes $11,358.
Baserva said the company is demanding money outside the terms of the agreement they had.
"I'm going to pay them, but I'm going to wait until they take me to court because I have the agreement in my hand," Baserva said. "To be honest with you, I'm just fed up."
According to Cosklo, Baserva recently called and said he didn't know what to do about his situation. Cosklo had another interested party and sat the two down to tal.
"Last Tuesday I put the buyer and seller together, we sat down in Jose's from 1:00 to 2:30," Cosklo said. "And you'd be surprised; he had the side door open and there were 15 people that came by and they were disappointed" he's closing.
Jose's Real Cuban Food was a Bradenton favorite. The restaurant at 8799 Cortez Road won an average 4.5 star rating out of 249 reviews on the popular restaurant review website Yelp! and was featured on a 2011 episode of Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives."
Still, Cosklo said handing it over to new owners is probably best for Baserva's health.
"I think on his part it's really the right thing to do to let someone else run it," Cosklo said.
The interested party is the Quintana brothers, who own and operate Café Havana, another Cuban restaurant, at 1440 63rd Ave. E., Bradenton.
At this time, Café Havana manager Jose Quintana said he can't confirm whether they will sign a lease on the property and operate a restaurant there, but they are thinking about it. Cosklo sent the lease to the Jose Quintana and Al Quintana, owner of Café Havana, via email Monday night.
"We just got the lease last night and we have to go through the lease and see if it's agreeable," Jose Quintana said. "So I can't say yes or no at this point."
Baserva said he plans to take a few months off to take care of his health issues, which now include a potential gallbladder surgery.
His mother, 84 and father, 85, live with him at his home and he said taking care of them is his No. 1 priority, even above taking care of his own health issues. After his health stabilizes and he takes some time to rest, Baserva said he is thinking about opening another restaurant.
"The last six months have been tough," he said. "I'm in no hurry."
Janelle O'Dea, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow her on Twitter@jayohday.