Since Bud Holleman left his namesake restaurant many years ago, management has changed countless times. The property is still owned by Carlos Santana, who also manages the Miami Springs Country Club, but the restaurant operation has been mostly leased out.
Although the name remained unchanged since 1976 for the landmark restaurant and lounge at 1 Curtiss Pkwy., new management took over on Aug. 2 and Holleman’s will soon become the Caribbean Restaurant and Lounge.
The new lessee is Jorge Cuesta, a third-generation chef from Cuba with extensive knowledge of Cuban cuisine. He will oversee the kitchen.
Managing operations will be Giancarlo Sanchez, who has 20 years of restaurant management experience. Over the years he ran Café Azul in Miami and Little Havana restaurants in both North Miami and Deerfield Beach.
“Mister Cuesta has been a chef almost all his life and has family recipes going back to his great-grandmother in Cuba,” said Sanchez. “This is his first restaurant.”
Sanchez said he plans to run the new restaurant like he did the popular Little Havana locations.
“We’re going to have great service, great atmosphere and the best food you can eat,” said Sanchez.
Sanchez said he has been talking to regular diners to see what their favorites have been during the Holleman’s era and keep the most well-liked dishes on the menu.
“I’ll merge the most popular items with the new menu,” Sanchez said. “We’re also going to fix what needs to be fixed and make some changes to the interior, like re-upholstering the booths.”
The side room, which was once a wine and tapas area, will be incorporated into the main restaurant. Wine racks will be removed and more tables will be added. The bar will remain the same, including the ever-popular karaoke night on Fridays. An awning will be added for outside dining, along with an area for smoking cigars and cigarettes.
As for personnel changes, Sanchez said he explained the new operation and rules to current employees and some stayed while others decided to leave. Fabian — the man who brings setups, water and bread among other duties — has been working at Holleman’s for more than 30 years and said he will stay on the job.
“We plan to have the best Cuban cuisine, which is well-known for roast pork, rice and beans and plantains, among other things,” Sanchez said. “Chef Cuesta also makes a mouthwatering mojo, the best I’ve ever tasted. We’re going to go with the classics and introduce new dishes along the way.”
Presently, the restaurant is only open for dinner (4:30 p.m. –11 p.m., except for the bar), but after the new menu is ready and the name is changed, the eatery will also be open for lunch.
Sanchez said he is proud to manage the first classic and traditional Cuban restaurant in Miami Springs.
“We’re going to make history and be part of the community,” Sanchez said. “We want to accommodate and have something nice for everybody. We want customers to remember our food after they go home.”