Jíbaro: A gastronomic project in harmony with the environment
Jíbaro Bar-Restaurant, founded in 2017, embraced the key aim of reducing its use of as many disposable items as possible, through the use of recycled coasters and doylies, stainless steel straws and the reuse of all glass objects.
The space, located in the heart of Old Havana, has received excellent reviews and the highest score for its range of culinary options, service and value for money. It also stands out for the fulfillment of its initial goals: financial success, a positive impact on the community, and the gradual and constant implementation of sustainable and environmentally friendly work practices.
One of these initiatives is the “Jibareando” project, conceived six months after opening the business and aimed at children in the local community, with the creation of handicrafts, games and activities related to the incorporation of recycling in daily life.
“We are also teachers of the Artecorte community project, in its bar mode, dedicated to young people interested in working behind the bar. We also developed the first menu of alcohol-free cocktails and the first menu of cocktails using products that are 85% natural and handmade,” Diana Figueroa del Valle, one of the owners of Jíbaro, explains to Negolution.
Trained as a Nuclear and Energy Technologies engineer, Diana recalls that together with her husband, David Roque, who has a degree in Business Administration, she bought the property in Old Havana in 2015; and after two years of renovation, restoration and interior design they opened the bar-restaurant to the national and international public.
“We set out to do things differently: training, study and investment in professionals with a desire to learn. Thanks to this, we have formed a work team that constantly strives to improve the experience of our ‘jibaritxs’ – a name by which we identify our community of clients – many of whom function as brand ambassadors,” she explains.
Diana also assures that since the beginning of the “new reality” imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, they have promoted the tasks of the Tahona Society Award, an international contest that rewards work focused on sustainability and community development.
Jíbaro was selected among the finalists in the contest, which for the first time saw the participation of Cuban entrepreneurs. Similarly, Jíbaro has maintained its co-working concept with Conbac, a project jointly promoted with 7 other enterprises for lovers of mixology, which promotes the creation of craft and signature cocktails.
The venture has established alliances with national and international enterprises. For example, an article by David Roque was published in Difford’s Guide, in its section on bar enterprises during the pandemic, which generated a cash donation for the Cuban Bartenders Association.
In the article, Roque states that they have become a small laboratory through the development of a line of sustainable and minimum waste artisan mixers, essential in their cocktails and dishes, and with their own external demand.
“Our clients cover the entire spectrum: from events, contests and promotional campaigns for spirits brands, to small and medium sized bars interested in serving more than mojitos and daiquiris, but whose demands and identities prevent them from streamlining their own products,” he argues.
Diana Figueroa comments that other strategies used were the search for tools to promote the home delivery service and “the creation of a dynamic menu that adapts to the current situation and the demands of our jibaritxs. Among them, the thematic ‘Friday at Home’ and ‘Romantic Saturday’.”
The skill and quality in the preparation of traditional Cuban dishes and international recipes that are new to the country made them worthy of the prize for originality in the first Tapas Route Competition in Old Havana.
“We are lucky to do something we love and, although we still have a long way to go, we consider ourselves successful because we have been fulfilling the objectives we pursued with the founding of Jíbaro,” she concludes.