Cuban Restaurant Dishes Out Hospitality

Cuban Restaurant Dishes Out Hospitality
By Jennifer Silverstein
Pegia Sugar, who is a regular at La Cubanita Café on Lithia Pinecrest Rd., says it should charge her rent, she’s there so often. For 12 years, Sugar has been meeting her friend, Pippa Milnamow at La Cubanita for coffee, which she says is the best in town, and to chat. For hours. Sugar never feels rushed or pressured to leave. Owner Leticia Kallas said, “The atmosphere we have is great. Over the years, people have met here and become friends. It’s kind of like Cheers.”La Cubanita’s menu includes Cuban favorites such as the traditional Cuban sandwich complete with ham, pork, Swiss, pickles, mayonnaise and mustard; Cuban toast; cheese toast as well as plantanos (plantains), tamales and flan. Then, Leticia’s husband, Elia, throws a curve ball into the Cuban restaurant- Greek food. The Australian born and raised Grecian wanted to introduce a little bit of Greek food into the menu. Therefore, La Cubanita also serves a traditional Greek salad and two types of gyros- chicken and lamb.The most popular menu item, Leticia said, “is the roast pork, by far.”In 1995, the Kallas opened the original La Cubanita on Kings Ave. and Lumsden Rd. In 2005, they opened this location at 3240 Lithia Pinecrest Rd., Ste. 101, in Valrico. They sold the original location back in 2007-2008.This year, they plan on expanding to New Tampa with their manager, Ryan Scott, who has been with them for six years running the new store. “Most of our eight employees have been with us for years,” Leticia said. Their chef has been with La Cubanita since it opened. The Kallas have been Valrico residents since 2003 and have 12-year-old triplets, Nicholas, Elia and Tatianna, who attend Randall Middle School and play soccer at Brandon Area Youth Soccer League (BAYSL). La Cubanita also offers a special for a family of four, where you can choose from roast pork, baked chicken or peccadillo, and it includes rice and black beans, all for $23.95. “People are stretching their pennies and looking for value, and that’s what we’re trying to give them,” Leticia said.La Cubanita is open Monday – Saturday, from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. and closed on Sunday. It also offers catering for all occasions. For more information, please call 655-9224 or visit www.lacubanitacafe.com.