Jorge Milanes Despaigne
HAVANA TIMES — At lunch time, I walk around near my place of work in search of a coffee shop or restaurant where I can eat. Finding one isn’t always easy for, though there are many private and State establishments in Havana, I can’t always afford eating there and I have to like the place.
I’ve been irregularly visiting some of these privately-run restaurants in Old Havana, where the prices are reasonable and the food acceptable, something that’s hard to maintain.
Of these, there’s one I like in particular. The owners are proud of the number of customers they have every day, but, apparently, they still haven’t realized that many things that can drive away their clientele.
Though the owners of these establishments are only just starting out in the sector, I think they should not lose from sight how important kind treatment, the employee’s dress and cleanliness of the place are. Some require, or, better said, urgently need some consultancy in terms of their image.
I went to this place for lunch days ago. When I sat down at a table, I glanced over at a corner of the restaurant and saw some images of Orisha dieties. I didn’t think much of it, thinking it was a date in which offerings are made or a festivity is held in the religion, that it was something temporary that would later be taken down.
Yesterday, I went back with a friend from work, because the food there is quite tasty. The servings are large and the service is good, but that isn’t all one cares about. On the way, I was telling my friend what I didn’t like about the place and that, perhaps, they’d already taken down the effigies. When I got to the entrance, I noticed there were barely any patrons inside. I turned towards the corner and was struck by a terrible image: everything there was much more exuberant. There were even feathers, blood and the heads of some animals. I didn’t get a table. I told my friend I was leaving and would never be coming back.
I understand there are days the Orishas are honored, but they should also have their own, separate spaces, and not necessarily in places where food is served.