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Authentic ‘old-time’ Cuban restaurant coming to downtown Sarasota

Cuba 1958 will replace Flavio’s on Main and eyes an early summer opening date.

Cuba 1958 is set to open in mid-June on Main Street in Sarasota.
Cuba 1958 is set to open in mid-June on Main Street in Sarasota.
Photo by Jim DeLa
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A new Cuban-inspired restaurant is opening in downtown Sarasota, replacing Flavio’s on Main, at 1766 Main St. 

Flavio’s owner, Flavio Cristofoli, said he opened the Main Street location several years ago and ran it, along with his longtime Siesta Key location, but had trouble finding qualified staff for the downtown operation. 

“It was too much for me to handle two restaurants in season,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Flavio’s Brick Oven and Bar on Siesta Key is not going anywhere — and is doing quite well. 

“We do big numbers on Siesta Key,” Cristofoli said. “We’ve been here almost 33 years.”

Cristofoli continues to own the Main Street property and is leasing it to Cuba 1958, a spinoff of 1958 Cuban Cuisine, a restaurant in Westfield, New Jersey.

1958 Cuban Cuisine’s owner, Daniel Jimenez, said his family emigrated from Cuba in 1968 “with nothing but the clothes on our backs,” and started the restaurant in New Jersey. 

“We’re grateful that God gave us the opportunity,” he said. 

The idea behind 1958 Cuba — the year before Fidel Castro came to power — is to “bring back the sexy, old-time Cuba.” 

Jimenez said he moved to Bradenton two years ago after seeing Sarasota. 

“What brought me here was Lido Key and St. Armands. We fell in love with the place.”

Jimenez said the new 1958 Cuba downtown will be similar to his New Jersey restaurant, with a few tropical twists. 

“We want to bring a fine-dining Cuban experience. Downtown needs something like that.” 

He promises true, high-end Cuban dining. 

“It’s ‘Grandma’s’ cooking. Everything’s authentic,” he said. 

Jimenez will serve as general manager. His chef of 25 years will also be on staff here. 

“He’s from Cuba. Everyone involved in this is Cuban.”

He said work is still underway at the Main Street location. “We’re painting, decorating,” he said. 

“God willing, we’ll be open sometime around the second week in June.”

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Jim DeLa

Jim DeLa is the digital content producer for the Observer. He has served in a variety of roles over the past four decades, working in television, radio and newspapers in Florida, Colorado and Hawaii. He was most recently a reporter with the Community News Collaborative, producing journalism on a variety of topics in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties; and as a digital producer for ABC7 in Sarasota.

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