Cafe Havana opens another location at former Jose's Real Cuban Food

MANATEE -- Al and Jose Quintana, owners of Café Havana, will convert the former Jose's Real Cuban Food into a second Café Havana location.

The beloved Bradenton Cuban food mainstay Jose's Real Cuban Food, 8799 Cortez Road W., closed last month and left a void in Bradenton's restaurant scene. The establishment was featured on Food Network's TV show "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" in 2011.

Jose Quintana said they hope to reopen the location in the first week of July. But it won't be the same old Jose's.

The restaurant will be completely remodeled with new floors, a new paint job and new cooking equipment. The Cortez Road location will have the same menu as the other Café Havana location and serve beer and wine. The restaurant space does not qualify for a liquor license because currently the seating area totals approximately 1,000 square feet and restaurants that serve liquor must have a seating area of 2,500 square feet or greater, according to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Al Quintana hopes to build more seating into the building's back room and said he would have about 2,500 square feet after expanding.

Al Quintana is training staff at the 63rd Avenue Café Havana location to move them to the Cortez Road location.

The number of staff members needed at the Cortez Road location will depend on the amount of traffic the restaurant experiences, Jose Quintana said.

"I have no idea how many we're going to need over there," Jose Quintana said. "Based on what Jose (Baserva) said, I know we're going to need at least four or five people."

Al Quintana said he's excited to open it because he had always hoped to expand and it fills a need.

"Where there's a need, that's why businesses grow," Al Quintana said. "There's a need for the product in the area."

Jose Baserva, "did a great job, it's just time to take it to the next level," he added.

Darlene Baserva, wife of Jose Baserva, would not discuss Jose Baserva's current medical condition with the Bradenton Herald, but she confirmed he is in the hospital and in hospice care.

Owner of the Cortez Road property, Gene Cosklo, said the lease was signed a couple of weeks ago, after he met Al and Jose Quintana at the 63rd Avenue Café Havana location and inspected the restaurant himself.

"I went through and looked at the coolers, the stoves and the bathrooms," Cosklo said. "I was impressed with his cleanliness. He didn't know I was coming and we went through the whole place and I checked temperatures like a health inspector would."

Interest in the Cortez Road property is still high, Cosklo said.

"I got a lot of response," Cosklo said. "I still have people in my voicemail saying if this guy backs out they'll take it. It's amazing. I came down to fish two weeks ago and people were asking me about the place."

Cosklo has a couple of other properties across the street from the new Café Havana and owns restaurant properties in Pennsylvania, as well. He travels between Pennsylvania and Florida and said he spends more time in Florida than up north.

Although he's owned several restaurant properties over his real estate career, Cosklo said Jose's Real Cuban Food was one of the more successful. A lot of it had to do with Baserva's personable nature and relationships with customers.

"Jose had a hell of a following," Cosklo said.

He hopes the Quintana brothers pay homage to Baserva.

"I would hope they should have a Jose sandwich on there and make it the pork sandwich that everyone likes," Cosklo said. "I would have a Jose special because Jose did a lot for that area."

Janelle O'Dea, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095.

Follow her on Twitter@jayohday.

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