Cuban restaurant opens in Mexico City

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MEXICO CITY -- Famed Havana restaurant La Bodeguita del Medio (B del M) will open a branch in Mexico City May 19 via a franchise agreement. The owners of the Cuban restaurant, the hotel group Gran Caribe, have given the franchise to a Mexican company called Operadora Maestra, which plans to open six more in the cities of Guadalajara, Cancun, Tijuana, Monterrey, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta over the next five years.

The Mexico City outlet will aim to reproduce as authentically as possible the B del M experience. Its operators hope to bring from Cuba its famed barman and cook, who for more than 44 years have served such celebrities and luminaries as Brigitte Bardot and Ernest Hemingway. The B del M has already been exported from Cuba to Barcelona in 1995, followed by one in Guatemala. The owners are negotiating additional contracts with companies from Spain, Colombia, Italy and Panama, but say the future of the franchise will depend on the success in Mexico, according to press reports.

Replicas of the B del M and two other Havana establishments--the restaurant El Floridita and nightclub Tropicana--are due to open next year in Toronto.

Copyright May 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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