Her name is Flora, and she represents the "stereotypical modern Cuban girl," says Kristy Socarras Bigelow, the owner of Cuba Cuba, Cuba Cuba Sandwicheria in Boulder and Cuba Cuba Sandwicheria in Glendale, which opens tomorrow in the City Set Project, joining Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar, Big Smoke Burger, World of Beer and, soon, Udi's.
Flora, whose statuesque body was spray-painted by a local artist, holds a mojito in her hand, and she's the welcome mat, so to speak, at the sandwicheria. "I wanted her to be the one whose eyes peer down at everyone walking through the door," explains Bigelow, who describes Flora as a caricature of a "contemporary Cuban woman living in Miami."
It's easy to be transfixed by her curves, and she was certainly the centerpiece of conversation yesterday, when the curious stopped in to gawk, but the space, strewn with wooden trellises, isn't just about Flora. "I wanted it to be a mix," says Bigelow, "of Cuba Cuba and the Boulder sandwich shop. And while I've always wanted to replicate Cuba Cuba, the fact that it's in two houses makes it impossible to duplicate, so I tried to take the best of both restaurants and create an energetic atmosphere that has all the essential elements of Cuba," she says, pointing, for example, to the distressed plantation shutters, reminiscent of what you'll see in Cuba and the Caribbean, that wrap around the bar surfaced with 3,500 dominoes.
"In Cuba, everyone plays dominoes, drinks rum and smokes cigars, so the bar is super-symbolic of how I grew up," notes Bigelow, who spent five long hours lining up every single domino. "It was hard work, and I was 45 dominoes short and had to order more, but I love how it turned out," she adds.
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The walls, brushed turquoise and red, are papered with enlarged photographs of Old Havana street scenes, and the wooden tables, nearly as festive as Flora, are custom-made and hand-painted. "I love distressed woods and bright colors, and I definitely wanted this to be a place that had a cool, urban feel -- a place that feels like the Cuba of my generation," says Bigelow.
And City Set, she adds, was the ideal location to showcase it. "This area is rocking and, well, it could use some great Cuban cuisine. Every neighborhood needs Cuban cuisine," she jokes.
Her menu, a medley of sandwiches, including, of course, a pressed Cubano with roasted pork, ham, swiss, pickles and a smear of mustard, also parades salads along with beef, chicken, pork or tempura fish plates, all of which are served with black beans and white rice, or fries and a citrus-y slaw. Sides, like sweet plantains, empanadas and tostones, are also featured, as are desserts, including flan, tres leches cake and pastelito.
The Sandwicheria, which will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, unlocks its doors to the public tomorrow at 11 a.m., but we were lucky enough to get an advance peek at the space, the photos of which are on the following pages.