“I’m not a chef, but I can cook some really good meals,” says Manny Rodriguez, owner of the forthcoming Cortaditos Cuban Café.
Rodriguez’s kitchen skills notwithstanding, the menu for the restaurant taking over the 616 Meeting St. space previously occupied by Ike’s Hot Fish & Chicken doesn’t require much cooking. Rodriguez plans to serve sandwiches, including a classic Cubano, pulled pork and pulled chicken, as well as café con leche, tropical smoothies and various Latin pastries.
While the pork and chicken will be roasted in-house, Rodriguez plans to buy bread from Sysco.
Cuban food is frequently cited as a missing element of Charleston’s dining scene. Rodriguez, who recently moved here from Miami, is encouraged by the success of Cuban restaurants elsewhere in the Southeast.
“I got a friend of mine, his kid’s at Clemson,” Rodriguez says. “He was telling me the other day that there’s a Cuban restaurant near the university, and they’re doing very well.”
Cortaditos is Rodriguez’s first restaurant venture. He joined the staff of his father’s pharmacy at the age of 14, and later worked in real estate. Born in Cuba, Rodriguez, 49, moved to Spain when he was two-years-old; his family later settled in New Jersey before relocating to Miami in 1978.
A planned opening date of July 1 was held up by architectural issues; Rodriguez hopes to open Cortaditos by the end of August. For more information (and a brief history of Cuban emigration), visit cortaditoscubancafe.com.