Tuesday, September 26, 2017     Volume: 18, Issue: 29
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Santa Maria Sun / Biz Spotlight

The following article was posted on September 13th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 28 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 28

Spotlight on: Cubanissimo

Arqui and Chrystal Trenado, owners

By SPENCER COLE

One of the Central Coast’s most beloved food trucks has set up shop in Orcutt, and its owners say they aim to offer patrons a little slice of Cuba.

“It’s all about the experience,” Cubanissimo Cuban Coffee House & Cafe owner Arqui Trenado told the Sun. “And I think it’s two different parts.”

The first? Environment.

Cubanissimo’s walls are covered with art—mainly photographs—depicting the Caribbean island nation. Arqui is a Cuban native, so he collected the images himself.


HOW MANY STIRS?
Cubanissimo’s food truck’s new café offers a variety of traditional Cuban coffee drinks, including the café bombón, a layered beverage with condensed milk, black espresso, whipped cream, and cinnamon.
PHOTO BY SPENCER COLE

“Our pictures, we take with our camera,” Arqui explained, “so it’s like a personal touch.”

The second part, he said, is a crucial piece of that environment: Music, which hits Cubanissimo patrons with a wall of salsa, rhumba, and flamenco the moment they step through its doors.

“Every time I go to an American party, there’s no music and I’m so upset,” Arqui said. “I ask, ‘Is there a party here?’ We do music all the time, so the other thing we offer is the music—the environment with the music, the food, the presentation of the food also, and being able to educate the customer about Cuban traditions and culture.”

For Arqui, and his partner in business (and life) Chrystal Trenado, that presentation and environment is nothing without authenticity.

“For me, it’s everything to represent Cuba—the culture [authentically],” Arqui said. “The Cuban culture, people don’t know too much about Cuba. So, it’s not like the East Coast, where you can find Cuban cuisine.”

And even though cities like LA and San Francisco have Cuban-style offerings, the Trenados say that most of those are fusion restaurants.

Cubanissimo is different.

“It’s unique,” Arqui said. “I’d say 98 percent of the food we serve in here is Cuban recipe.”

Although the restaurant opened just a few weeks ago on Aug. 22, the Trenados have already made a name for themselves serving up cubano sandwiches and yuca fries for nearly two years with their food truck.

The original idea, Arqui explained, was to run the food truck for about five years before opening a brick-and-mortar location. That plan changed as the truck grew in popularity.

“People loved it and so [Arqui] wanted to be able to offer more things: Cuban coffee, pastries—things that you can’t really do in the food truck,” Chrystal said.

In the truck, the Trenados could only offer about four menu items per day, but with the cafe, the options expanded exponentially. That’s especially true for their sides, which now feature tostones, black beans, fruit, tomato cucumber salad, or depending on the day, sweet plantains.


A TASTE OF HOME
Cubanissimo co-owner Arqui Trenado said he wants his restaurant to offer a personalized experience that both reminds of his home country and allows him to teach others about its culture and traditions.
PHOTO BY SPENCER COLE

“So there’s a lot more variety on the menu any day you come in,” Chrystal added.

One of the new additions the Trenados are most excited about? The coffee. Cubanissimo sources their beans from a family of Cuban roasters with a tradition dating back to colonial times.

The rich black espresso takes main stage in the form of the cafe’s flagship drink, the café bombón—a layered beverage with condensed milk at the bottom, followed by espresso, and topped with whipped cream and cinnamon.

According to Arqui, in Cuba, you can learn a lot about a person by how many times they stir their bombón (or at least, how sweet they like their coffee).

When asked how Arqui best enjoys his, Chrystal laughed and answered for him.

“Sometimes I think he would just drink the milk if he could,” she said.

Even though the new brick-and-mortar at 4869 S. Bradley Road in Orcutt is the new headquarters for the Trenados’ Cuban cuisine offerings, their truck will still be around on Tuesdays in San Luis Obispo and by request for special events.

As far as Arqui and Chrystal are concerned, the store’s opening is only the beginning.

“I’d like to eventually franchise [the business],” he said, “and we own the space next door to here so we’d like to expand that too.”

Chrystal added that the two are just excited to see what the future has in store.

“It’s already been an adventure,” she said. 

Highlights: 

• Since Friday, Sept. 8, Downtown Fridays has set up a clear 3-foot tall donation box for Hurricane Harvey relief effort donations that will be available each Friday until the season ends Sept. 29. All donations will be collected and distributed by United Way.

Staff Writer Spencer Cole wrote this week’s Biz Spotlight. Information should be sent to the Sun via fax, mail, or email at spotlight@santamariasun.com.




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