PAPI’S ORIGINATED WITH A FAMILY RECIPE, A DREAM, AND THE WILLINGNESS TO RISK EVERYTHING.
This is our story.
In 1980’s Cuba, most people lived in poverty and there was a U.S. led embargo against the country. Food rationing was tightened and many basic goods and services were restricted. People who did not have families sending money suffered, and there was little hope in sight.
In spite of anti-American propaganda, Reynaldo “Rey” Regalado and his father, Rey Sr., still saw it as the land of opportunity. Rey Sr. believed his family recipes could make Cuban a big hit in America, and Rey Jr. wanted to open a business. The two envisioned themselves sharing the delectable tastes of east Cuba with the U.S.
By 1990, Rey Jr. knew that he had to act quickly. At great risk, he trained every day for the approximately 5-mile swim to the safety of the U.S. Marine base at Guantanamo Bay. A few months later, a fisherman who also wished to leave the country approached Rey with a life-changing proposition: the man has access to a boat. They devised a plan for Rey, his childhood friend, and the fisherman's family to make an escape. On November 18, 1990, under the cover of darkness and without goodbyes, the 13 refugees went to the beach at Santiago de Cuba. They made the harrowing 4-hour journey to freedom, huddled in the belly of a 35-foot fishing boat that had been “borrowed” from the Cuban government. With nothing but the clothes on his back and his family recipes, Rey Jr. was one step closer to the dream.
It took 9 years of struggle and sacrifice before Rey saw his family again, but he persevered. By 2002, Rey was bringing the tastes of Cuba to Americans. He also became a proud U.S. citizen. Sadly, Rey Sr. died of cancer in December of 2002. Papi’s, Spanish for “Daddy’s,” is named for, and dedicated to Rey Sr.’s memory. It is a place for the celebration of bravery, ambition, and most of all, freedom.