"Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement."
- Nelson Mandela

Three days before the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Easter in 1993, at the age of twenty-six I came down with a fever of ninety-six degrees, mind bending migraine headaches and stiffness from the bottom of my spine to the top of my head. I was diagnosed with spinal meningitis. Doctors told my parents I would only have a few hours to live and advised them that the slight chance of survival would come at a cost -- loss of sight or hearing, or even severe mental impairment. The severity of the circumstance informs me until this day. 

However, by Sunday things had changed. In what doctors described as “without scientific explanation,” “a miracle” and “lucky,” I began recovering without complications. The three day invasion of my spinal fluid by the meningococcal bacteria was coming to an end. What was left behind is with me until this day. The memory.  

In the Afro-Cuban tradition of spirituality, Ocha Ifa, practitioners believe the duties of miraculous healing are taken on by the Orisha (Angel, Cosmic Force) Babalu Aye. While in recovery, realizing my tremendous fortune in a second chance at life, I made a promise to dedicate my life to service and human enhancement. I wasn’t clear how or even what this would mean. Yet, I felt overwhelmingly compelled to step into these newly designed shoes that I had crafted with my imagination. Almost immediately, I found myself in a dance with serendipity sensing we were old friends.

The strangeness of culminating events lined the path of my life towards the absolutely unknown and unfamiliar. New types of people and ideas, places and environments, feelings and emotions, euphoric comforts and extreme discomforts. It was enough to bring on swarms of anxiety and spells of fear. If not for will to know truth, a curiosity of the other’s achievements and the love of love, I am not sure I would have received the enlightenment along this journey which allows me to find buckets of strength and courage in the perilous moments which I face even until this day. 

After setting course towards a college degree in international relations, upon completion I joined  the Peace Corps in the summer of 1998 and was sent to the South Pacific Island, Samoa. I continued service there with the United Nations  and as a Charter Board Member and Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Samoa. 

By 2002 I was in a federal position in the Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C. where I served as country officer, the liason, for Peace Corps programs in the Caribbean and Central America. 

Before opening the first Soul de Cuba Cafe I was recruited to work in New Haven, Connecticut by Paul Newman’s Association of Hole in the Wall Camps to develop and support programs and activities for this charitable organization in Thailand, Southern Africa and Japan. 

The vision of being a restaurateur first entered my awareness in the late 1980s while I attended community college in Ybor City, Florida, where my great grandfather Santiago Gonzalez made his first home in the United States. Today, Ybor City is nationally recognized as a historic district in Florida. It took seventeen years from the earliest sense of the vision of Soul de Cuba Cafe until 2005 for it to become a reality. And of all places, in New Haven, Connecticut.

Join me monthly as I share this story as well as keep you updated on everything happening at Soul De Cuba Cafe, upcoming events, and all the happenings in our community with insight from our colorful and attractive team!


- Jesus Puerto

Jesus Puerto, Founder/CEO Soul de Cuba Cafe with music legend Lisa Lisa who performed on the New Haven Green before her and her entourage joined us for dinner on July 20th.

Past events for july

  • Independence day 4th of July: Thank you for everyone celebrating the 4th of July with us.
  • TropiGay La-La Drag Show July 7th: Our drag show brunch was a success hope to see you again at our next one.
  • Music legend Lisa Lisa performed on the New Haven Green then joined us for dinner on July 20th

World Events 

Cuba expands internet access to private Homes and Business.

Click Here

Future Gatherings

  • Drag Show August 25: Join us for Brunch for 11:00AM to 5:00PM  featuring Drag shows starting at 11:00AM, 1:00PM and 3:00PM.

Our Planet 

Fish recorded singing dawn chorus on reefs just like birds.

Click Here

Recipe Corner 

Lechon Asado – Cuban Roast Pork
1.) 3-4 lb pork butt (4-6 servings)
2.) Coat meat with Mojo and marinate for 30 minutes or more
3.) Place in oven pan and cover with foil
4.) Roast for 1 ½ - 2 hours @ 450 degrees (or until center reaches 180 degrees)
5.) Take out of oven and use tongs to pull meat apart until shredded
6.) Place shredded pork in a pot of stove top
7.) Add 2-3 oz. cup white wine
8.) Add 1-2 oz. lemon juice
9.) Add 6-8 oz. Soul de Cuba Cafe Mojo
10.) Cook on low flame mixing regularly
11.) ENJOY!!!
See you next month!!!

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Soul de Cuba Cafe · 283 Crown Street · New Haven, Ct 06511 · USA

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