Updated: Jul 10
A couple of years before my son was born around 2005 my mom had shared with me a book about metaphysics. It was that old fainted light blue cover beaten up a book that opened my mind and heart to the laws of attraction so I started to practice being open to the signs the universe gives us. Call it synchronicity the reason I was catching myself naturally paying attention to every detail, from the food we ordered to the decor and feel of the place. Long story short, the last time I had Spanish food before the night in Charlottesville was in Washington D.C when I had another first,
-stuffed lobster-so I was looking to have a similar experience. (A recipe for a stuffed lobster is included later in this book). Good food, and a one-on-one dining experience with my amada. Creativity was all around us plastered in the red brick walls typical of Old Town Charlottesville. It was the first time since our son was born that we had a date away from home and with no baby to attend to, feed, change diapers, or other parent duties, so the senses were freer and ready to absorb colors, aromas, and the feeling of the place with the flamenco playing in the background. I first started our conversation reminiscing about the night in Mexico when we discussed our life together as husband and wife. How we set up a plan to follow, to give us a vision and direction. We knew we wanted to create a family, experience life together, face and overcome life challenges together, amongst other personal and professional goals. We knew we’d start taking one step at a time and work our way through the curves, the hills, or rocky steps. We knew the final details would be shown to us along the way and that we could work out the even finer details if we discussed them through conversation, course adjustment, day by day.
How did we get here to the year 2021? Are you like me and ask that question sometimes? What is our foundation to live life, what are our principles? How can we co-exist?
That same thought process is what we applied to Cueva Bar Café. Even further back than those nights in Virginia, Cueva Bar Café was created on a hot Saltillo night outside Jo’s aunt and uncle’s house. That night with a clear sky and a few stars I shared with Joanna the vision that one day we would be running our own business. The fine print details about Cueva Bar Café? I didn't know them until the spring of 2010, just a few months before we opened when I modified a restaurant expansion business plan that I had worked on to help a friend in Harrisonburg. I spent a full night working on this concept after our first landlord agreed to give us a chance to present him with a business plan.
A couple of months later we broke ground and I was spending my days overseeing the demolition of the building. Vendors started flooding like bees to honey. Then one day, Chef Olivier and his wife Rochelle, working proprietors of the old Farm House Cafe, introduced me to their friend Sheila Tracy, a wine expert and restaurant industry veteran. One day while tasting wine and receiving mentorship from Sheila I shared with her ideas about our menu. When I showed her the empanadas, she immediately said, "ahh, tapas, that's what they call them in Argentina, right?" At that time my menu was simple. It contained empanadas, flatbreads, a couple of soups, a couple of salads, and a few appetizers.
So that night when I got home I studied the concept of tapas and who in San Diego was offering them. I googled "Tapas in San Diego", and I got answers. The results came back on the MacBook screen with 3 establishments. Tapas Picasso, La Gran Tapa, and Costa Brava. I immediately found a connection to the tapas concept because I was slightly concerned about setting Cueva Bar Cafe as a place for one staple dish. Putting tapas on the menu would allow me to freely use my creativity and create whatever dish I wanted. Also, after exploring the San Diego Market I figured out there was room for one more tapas spot, especially one with a different approach and not the classic Spanish Tapas one. After all, I am not from Spain and my neighborhood University Heights didn’t have anything like what I was about to share with the community.
To be continued..