Miami’s iconic Cuban restaurant – Versailles – celebrated five decades of serving tasty portions of Cuban cuisine and culture to the South Florida community and tourists alike. Three generations of the Valls Family, who founded, own and operate Versailles, hosted an anniversary celebration on Wednesday, November 10 to honor the countless customers who have sat on the restaurant’s signature green vinyl seats to eat in its ornate-mirrored dining rooms and who have enjoyed their famous ‘Cafecito Cubano’ at its walk-up cafecito window.
As part of the celebration, the Valls Group thanked their loyal customers by throwing back their menu prices to 1971 for a limited time while hosting a series of festivities, including “guaguancó” dancers, percussionists, and a Ferris wheel. In addition, a 10-piece band gave an energetic live performance fusing old-school Cuban beats with more modern sounds introduced by the younger generations. A live trio entertained restaurant patrons dining indoors, and fellow Cuban-American family-owned and operated company, Bacardi, paid its tribute by sponsoring a full bar showcasing all of its premium liquors.
“We are humbled and deeply appreciative of the loyalty and love our community has given us over the past 50 years,” said Felipe Valls, Jr. “We want this milestone to serve as a reminder that the American dream is alive and that the United States remains very much the land of opportunity.”
Soon after it opened its doors in 1971, Versailles quickly became the gathering place and unofficial town square for Miami’s Cuban exiles. Today, it remains the unrelenting gauge of the community’s pulse. Not surprisingly, Versailles is typically the first place politicians visit locally to garner support from the Cuban exile community, and the restaurant is equally a favorite among the media for gathering commentary and footage of the community’s take on social and political issues. It is not uncommon to see local and even national media set up camp in Versailles’ parking lot, where they’re sure to get a flood of local viewpoints.
“I always wanted Versailles to be a place where Cubans who left their country can feel at home,” said Felipe Valls, Sr. “I feel great pride that we have been embraced by all the wonderful cultures of our community. With the help of my family, we have made Versailles a place that welcomes people from the far corners of the world.”
Located in the same spot on the famous Calle Ocho (3555 Southwest 8th Street) for all of its existence, Versailles has never missed a beat as the heart of the Magic City’s iconic Little Havana neighborhood.
Aside from the flagship Versailles, the Valls family also currently owns and operates Cuban restaurants throughout South Florida, including multiple locations of its other popular family-style restaurant chain, La Carreta, Casa Cuba, La Palma, various Café Versailles locations at Miami International Airport, as well as the more upscale Spanish-cuisine restaurant Casa Juancho.