County honors Manuel Capó, El Dorado Furniture founder

By Richard Yager

Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe A. Martinez (center) presents a proclamation to Manuel Capó’s sons at the dedication.

Nearly a half-century ago, Manuel “Manolo” Capó arrived in the United States from Cuba to open his first El Dorado furniture store in Miami.

Forty-three years later, his portrait warmed the hearts of hundreds of friends, associates and family members when a section of Kendall Drive was named “Manuel Capó Way.” Mr. Capó died in 2009 at age 83.

“Mr. Capó’s story is the epitome of the American dream,” declared Miami- Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez who presented the Capó family with a proclamation honoring El Dorado’s founder and helped to unveil signage designating SW 88th Street from SW 137th Avenue to SW 142nd Avenue in honor of the family patriarch.

“Even as he worked to support his family, he managed to provide work to thousands of residents, and has been involved with numerous charitable organizations,” Martinez said.

Joining Commissioner Martinez for the special occasion in the company’s newest and largest outlet at 13755 Kendall Dr. were Rep. Juan Zapata and emecee Guillermo Benitez, Univision Channel 23 commentator.

Established in South Florida in 1967, El Dorado Furniture has grown to become the largest Hispanic-owned retail enterprise in the United States. With worldwide services, the family-owned company is ranked among the top 50 furniture retailers in the country. Ten El Dorado Furniture showrooms and an outlet center are located in South Florida.

According to its company history, origins of El Dorado Furniture date back to the 1920s in the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio where a young Simon Capó, father of Manuel, traded farm products and repaired furniture, eventually cultivating a chain of furniture stores called “Casa Capó.”

By 1950, Casa Capó had become one of the largest furniture manufacturing and retail enterprises in Cuba, and, during this time, Simon’s youngest son, Manuel, married his wife, Aida, later to raise six sons (all of whom attended the Aug. 7 dedication).

In 1966, after Castro rose to power, Manuel Capó fled Cuba with two of his sons, Luis and Carlos, leaving behind the rest of his family, in order to make a better life in America. They escaped the island in a small sailboat called El Dorado. After a treacherous journey landing them in Mexico, they eventually made their way to the United States.

On June 27, 1967, just seven months after their arrival, the Capós opened their first furniture store on Miami’s Calle Ocho (Eighth Street), in the heart of Little Havana, naming the store after the boat they sailed to freedom — El Dorado.

The small furniture store flourished and expanded, thanks to a $10,000 loan from the Small Business Administration. In 1967, Manuel’s wife, Aida, and their three younger sons — Julio, Pedro, and Jesus — arrived in Miami to reunite with the family. Dagoberto, the eldest son, reunited with the family in 1979, after years as a political prisoner in Cuba.

“My father would be very humbled by this honor,” said Roberto Capó. “We thank Commissioner Martinez for his efforts in making this happen. It means a lot to our family and all those who knew him,” said Roberto Capó.

Those descendants of Manuel Capó, who died at the age of 83, “retain the legacy he established here,” Benitez said. “That distinction lives on through his sons, all of whom make up the company’s board of directors, while his grandchildren help run the company’s daily business.”

Coincidentally, the adjoining intersection of SW 137th Street and Kendall Drive was designated as the theoretical center for West Kendall by Community Council 12, preparatory to developing a master plan for the unincorporated area’s future growth.


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