Oye Cuban Grill marries traditional Cuban food with fresh new twists

By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld….

Hector and Ian Gutierrez in their new Oye Cuban Grill in the Suniland Shopping Center.

There is a new Cuban restaurant in Pinecrest, but it’s not the typical Cuban eatery.

Oye Cuban Grill opened for business in February in the same Suniland Shopping Center location where Offerdahl’s Café once served up a selection of bagels.

“We offer recipes that are as traditional as could possibly be,” says Ian Gutierrez, one of partners in the new restaurant. “We serve it in a different presentation, different ambiance. It’s more appealing toward an American lifestyle, which is on the go. We don’t want you to walk into this place and feel you are thrown back into Cuba. We serve good quality Cuban food.”

The menu includes ropa vieja, picadillo and picadillo sliders. Gutierrez says they put the picadillo between two buns and call it a Cuban Sloppy Joe. There is a Guava Barbeque Pulled Pork sandwich and the traditional steak sandwich, Pan Con Bistec.

“We do a Frita and we call it our burger,” Gutierrez says. “We use more ground beef than chorizo. Its 80-20 ground beef and chorizo. Then we put black olives on it and grilled onion.”

The Oye Wrap is proving to be popular. The wrap is made with churrasco, sautéed onions, mozzarella cheese, diced sweet plantains and cabbage served in a warm flour tortilla. It’s comes with a Mojo dipping sauce.

Oye Cuban Grill is a quick-serve restaurant, ala Panera or Chipotle.

“We have a system where you order over the counter, but we do refills at the table,” Gutierrez says. “We can accommodate anything you want at the table. You just don’t place your order at the table.”

The menu is on chalk boards over the counter and menus are handed to customers when they walk in so they can peruse the offerings while waiting in line.

“Our strength is the quality of our food,” says Hector Gutierrez, one of the four partners and Ian’s father. “The menu will get broader with the introduction of daily specials.”

The 3,061 square foot restaurant boasts 99 seats, 40 of them outside in a recessed patio area that will soon have its own cooling system.

“We have to make sure those 40 seats are occupied,” Hector Gutierrez says.

On weekends, they expect to do special events outdoors, including having a chef go out and cook paella.

The Pinecrest location is expected to be the first of many. The partners plan to franchise their concept and take it national. In fact, they initially planned to open the flagship restaurant in Washington D.C., but then the Pinecrest location came available and was a good enough deal that they postponed their D.C. plans in favor of opening their first restaurant in their hometown.
“I’m glad we started here,” Hector Gutierrez says. “We found a great architect who is mobile. The next go-round will be easier.”

The marketing plan includes going into local schools to introduce Oye Cuban Grill to teens. The future also calls for off-site catering and food delivery.

The partners are father and son team Hector and Ian Gutierrez, cousin Howard Rodriguez and Christopher Gutierrez, Hector’s younger son who is finishing college.

By the way, the word Oye was chosen as the name because it’s one of the most recognized words in Cuban vernacular. But it also stands for Organization of Young Entrepreneurs. Ian Gutierrez plans to help other young entrepreneurs in the own business ventures.

Oye Cuban Grill is located at 11327 S. Dixie Hwy. For more information, call 786-249-4001or go to www.oyecubangrill.com.

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