Florida Keys

Two Cuban cafes called Sandy’s fought for the name — and now, only one can use it

A peek through the windows of Miami’s coffee culture

Miami Herald reporter Carlos Frias sits down with photographer Jake Katel to talk about coffee. Jake Katel set out to tell the story of Miami's love affair with Cuban coffee by photographing all the "ventanitas" on Calle Ocho.
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Miami Herald reporter Carlos Frias sits down with photographer Jake Katel to talk about coffee. Jake Katel set out to tell the story of Miami's love affair with Cuban coffee by photographing all the "ventanitas" on Calle Ocho.

After a legal battle, only one of the two Sandy’s Café owners in Key West will use the name.

Eventually, that is.

Without giving a deadline on when it will happen, lawyers on both sides said Inocente Santiago Jr. — whose father started Sandy’s Café in 1984 at 1026 White St. — will get to keep operating as Sandy’s.

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A bicyclist passes by the newest Sandy’s location at 1110 White St. on June 7, 2018. File photo FLKeysNews.com

Fernando Caceres, who ran Sandy’s Cafe at the Santiagos’ building from 1994 until 2017, paying rent but no royalties, will “rebrand the restaurant at 1110 White St. over time,” attorney Jonathan Woodard, who represents the Santiagos, said on Tuesday.

“Meanwhile, M&M Laundry, Inc., which owns the building at 1026 White St. out of which Sandy’s Café has been operated since 1984, will continue to operate as Sandy’s Café,” Woodard wrote in an email.

Woodward said the terms of a settlement struck in July remain confidential. Neither the two Sandy’s owners nor their lawyers are talking.

“Unfortunately, due to the confidential nature of the settlement agreement, neither our client nor I can comment further,” attorney Adam Goldman, who represents Caceres, said in an email Wednesday.

“The parties have resolved the litigation amongst themselves concerning the rights and ownership of the Sandy’s Cafe trademark on amicable and confidential terms,” the joint statement states. “All parties are happy to have this issue behind them.”

The two Sandy’s Cafes were fighting it out in federal court after Caceres sued Santiago in January over ownership of the restaurant’s name. He said Inocente Santiago Sr. sold him the business — and the Sandy’s name — years before in a handshake deal. The Santiagos said that never happened.

In December 2017, after Santiago Jr.’s father had died, Caceres pulled up stakes and moved down the block to a new spot — which boasts air conditioning and more seats. Caceres also owns a food truck and bakery that both sport the Sandy’s name.

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Sandy’s Cafe originated at 1026 White St. in 1984. Gwen Filosa Keynoter


The original Sandy’s Cafe at 1026 White St. is a coffee stand that serves up Cuban coffee and Cubano sandwiches through two windows and has only a few seats outside.

Sandy was Santiago Sr.’s nickname and is also his son’s.

In December, Caceres says he was forced out by Sandy Jr.

Sandy Santiago Jr. says the Caceres family left because of a lease dispute.

The two Sandy’s owners got a taste of the court’s reaction to the case a few months back.

A federal magistrate on June 5 sent both Sandy’s restaurants back to their corners, recommending that neither get the cease-operations order each asked for.

“As the testimony from the witnesses and documentary evidence demonstrate, many disputed issues of fact remain, which raise questions whether either party is likely to succeed at trial,” U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Andrea M. Simonton wrote in a report to the court.

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