Layla the potbellied pig didn’t like the idea of being brought to a Cuban restaurant — especially around Christmastime.
She had to be coaxed from her cage into a small fenced area in front of the new Latin Cafe 2000 in Brickell. Her neighbor in another cage, Luna the potbellied pig, had no such qualms. She pranced right out, wagging her black tail.
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She must have known it was their lucky day.
The restaurant invited Miami-Dade county mayor Carlos Gimenez to pardon the pigs the way the U.S. president pardons a turkey at Thanksgiving. Neither of these young sows will end up the Nochebuena lechón, the whole roasted pig that is traditionally eaten in Latin American countries on Christmas Eve.
“I’m glad Luna and Layla will be able to live happily ever after. They won’t end up on any menu — as long as they stay in Miami-Dade, that’s my only jurisdiction,” Gimenez said. “They need an official collar in case they go to Broward: Pardoned by the mayor of Miami-Dade.”
The stunt by Miami-born restaurateur Eric and Kali Castellanos also hits close to home for the couple, which has owned the restaurant chain since 2007: Kali Castellanos is a vegetarian as is Eric’s mother.
So while the rest of Miami will be picking out their pigs in the next few days, Layla and Luna will be whiling away the days at an animal rescue in the Redland. (Neither the host family nor the family that gave the pigs up wanted to be identified.)
“We hope this will be a new tradition. Being that we have such a large Latin community, this is perfect for Miami,” Eric Castellanos said.
In honor of the mayoral pardoning, the restaurant served only spinach and chicken croquetas with a side of coquito, the Puerto Rican egg and rum punch, which they will serve throughout the holidays.
The only hams were getting their picture taken.