Café and community: A taste of Little Havana comes to Cville

Danilo and Harvey Mayorga are bringing Cuban food—and some Miami/Cuban flair—to Charlottesville with their Guajiros Miami Eatery, which will open soon on Seminole Trail in the Woodbrook Shopping Center. Photo by Eze Amos Danilo and Harvey Mayorga are bringing Cuban food—and some Miami/Cuban flair—to Charlottesville with their Guajiros Miami Eatery, which will open soon on Seminole Trail in the Woodbrook Shopping Center. Photo by Eze Amos

Proper Cuban food has been in short supply in the Charlottesville area, but that’s about to change when Guajiros Miami Eatery opens its doors in the next few weeks.

The restaurant is the brainchild of Miami transplant Harvey Mayorga, who, with his brother, Danilo, plans to bring a bit of Little Havana to the city, on Seminole Trail in the Woodbrook Shopping Center.

Mayorga said he and his wife, who came here to work at UVA about a year and a half ago, quickly noticed the paucity of Latin American food other than tacos or pupusas.

“We saw that there was a need for something different,” he says. After seeing the available space, Mayorga reached out to his brother, a restaurateur in Miami.

Mayorga says they’ll be serving their favorite Cuban food, with a bit of Miami/Cuban flair.

“There is a culture of ‘cafecito’ in Miami, where everyone on their commute stops at a ventana, or window, gets a Cuban toast, a croquette, and some café con leche before heading to work,” he says. “It’s a social event, even if it is for five or 10 minutes. We want to offer that.”

The brothers plan to start with breakfast and lunch service. Menu features will include breakfast sandwiches on Cuban bread, medialunas (crescent rolls), and a Cuban sandwich, as well as espresso, lattes, and café con leche. Mayorga said he hopes to introduce the Cuban colada (a multi-shot cup of sweet Cuban coffee) here as well. While they don’t yet have a liquor license, the plan is to eventually feature classic rum-based and Cuban cocktails with all-natural ingredients, including mojitos, daiquiris, el presidente cocktails, and rum old fashioneds.

What’s old is new again

Renovations are moving forward at the Boar’s Head’s Old Mill Room, which will reopen in January as the Mill Room.

“Walking in [to the new restaurant] will be very visually different,” says Joe Hanning, marketing and communications manager for the Boar’s Head. “It will still have the historic wooden beams and the same ambiance, but we’re opening it up to bring natural light in. All three seating areas will be combined as one and will be all brand new.”

And with the changes to the restaurant come some innovations that will put a 21st-century twist on the historic Trout House building behind the Mill Room.

“This was an historic shelter where long ago people would pick the trout they wanted for dinner—literally farm to table,” Hanning says. “We’re redesigning that to put in a hydroponic garden from Babylon Farms. We’ll be the only ones in North America to have self-sustained hydroponic gardens, where we’ll be producing our own leafy greens for the Mill Room.”

Executive chef Dale Ford is working on a new menu for the four-diamond restaurant, and conjuring up expansive plans for the hydroponic garden, all while tending to 20,000 honey bees up the hill from the Trout House. You can be sure that hyperlocal honey will be harvested and incorporated into the new menu.

Mourning a food community leader

A longtime philanthropic mainstay in the Charlottesville food community passed away suddenly last week.

Lisa Reeder, food and farm access coordinator for the Local Food HUB, had devoted nearly 20 years to working with and around food in central Virginia, the organization said. The Local Food HUB is a nonprofit organization that partners with Virginia farmers to increase community access to area food, and provides support services, infrastructure, and market opportunities that connect people with food grown close to home. The organization said Reeder had spearheaded its Fresh Farmacy program and oversaw a number of other community programs and partnerships.

In a statement, the Food HUB said Reeder was “passionate about all things food and agriculture, and found many ways to channel that passion into action.”

She understood the challenges of farming, and worked to bring needed resources to our partner farms,” the statement continued. “She made a mean BLT sandwich, and her contributions to staff potluck meals were unmatched. Even in the face of challenging health issues, her upbeat spirit and dedication to her friends, family, and work never wavered. Lisa will be greatly, greatly missed, but we will carry her example and her legacy with us with every step we take toward a healthier, more equitable food system.”

Feast! co-owner Kate Collier says Reeder’s loss will be felt far and wide.

“She’s always so strong, positive, and in the moment, helping others, putting friends first, feeding those who need it most, and spreading her beauty and light all around,” Collier says. “She was one of this community’s great women in food.”

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