Last night, 300 VIPs and hundreds of hungry Versailles' diners flooded the intersection of Calle Ocho and SW 36th and 37th Avenues to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Miami's most popular Cuban restaurant.
Under a white tent attached to the dining room, VIPs gathered to listen to a live band, drink complimentary Bacardi cocktails and Hatuey beer, watch professional dancers shake their stuff, and munch on appetizers like bacalao, fried yucca, ham croquettes, empanadas, and chicharrones de pollo. Politicians with slicked-back hair, dark suits, and American flag pins were spotted mingling with local celebrities while television news crews did their best to document the goings on outside.
As for some of the fashion statements made, uh, let's say empanadas were way more successful.
Crowds waited in long lines outside for a seat, eager to take advantage of rollbacks that entitled them to meals priced as they were in 1971. Who can resist a $1 medianoche?
Once inside, diners were also treated to strolling musicians.
We managed to corner Nicole Valls, granddaughter of founder Felipe Valls, who works in operations management for the restaurant and asked her a few quickie questions:
New Times: You obviously weren't born until after this restaurant was already a success, but do you remember the first time you came in?
Nicole Valls: I remember coming in as a kid. I worked at the bakery when I was 15.
In the last blog I wrote about Versailles I promised to tell the readers what your restaurant's plans are for Castro's dying day.
Last time, we were caught off guard when the media reported he had supposedly died. This time, the stations have reserved spots: CNN, Univision... We have a map with everyone's spots. The police have to close off Eighth Street. Any news of Cuba hits and people flock over!
We heard perhaps some changes are underway. Tell us about those.
We are going to remodel the interiors with nicer materials--but we're keeping the mirrors! We have plans to expand, adding a new kitchen and bakery and a new souvenir store.
Any more news?
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We launched our website today. And we're on Twitter and Facebook. We still have people who come every day. They come after concerts, parties, the clubs. But we're going to use social media to bring in the younger people.
What are your thoughts, looking over this group of people celebrating your family's milestone?
We're so grateful for it!