14ymedio Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 12 September 2023 – El Biky, the luxurious restaurant-cafe-confectioners, established nine years ago in the heart of Havana, opened a new outlet on Monday at José Martí International Airport. To be specific, the establishment is just outside Terminal 3, underneath the bridge in the arrivals area, opposite the shopping mall called Boulevard.
The establishment, which has taken a few weeks to be kitted out, according to airport staff, has 13 tables, some large some small. They were still tidying up and finishing everything off at just before 11 on Tuesday.
A little later, a few people, humble workmen, judging by their dress, approached to read the menu, then they left, shocked by the prices. The cheapest dish was “home made” croquettes – chicken or fish ones, very small, at 600 pesos; the most expensive dish was a grilled beef sandwich, at 2,700 pesos.
The lack of customers contrasted with the number of employees – around a dozen – and the busy traffic of the airport
Four female employees wearing Escasa uniforms (Cuban Airports and Services Company) did sit down at one of the tables, pestered the whole time by a small dog which was then ejected ill-temperedly from the place by a man who appeared to be the owner or manager. The women had no qualms about ordering anything from the menu.
The establishment, which has the logo El Biky clearly displayed, has three areas: a grill in the centre, a bar, and a trailer, similar to a streetfood cart. There was also an allocated place for ice cream which has yet to be opened. The customers have to order at the cash till and pay straight away, and then, with the ticket they’re given, wait for their food.
There’s only one sugar dispenser, which is shared between all of the tables. Far from the glamour that one supposes that the brand has, all the plates and cups are disposable and the sauces are served from a paper mould.
The lack of customers contrasted with the number of employees – around a dozen – and the busy traffic of the airport, where you could see passengers arriving on the island with trolleys full up with suitcases. None of them stopped to eat.
High prices and grandiose airs are characteristics which have been attached to El Biky ever since they opened their first establishment on 412 Calle Infanta, between San Lázaro and Concordia in 2014, at the time having the denomination of “non-agricultural cooperative”. Four partners – no one knows their names – refurbished, in just a year, an old building in the capital, which spans a large part of the block in which it is situated.
In contrast to other businesses which went under as a result of Covid restrictions, El Biky never stopped even during the worst period of the pandemic, an issue that has ever since been a source of some suspicion for Havana residents. “It has a different kind of ambience, one that isn’t typical of private businesses”, one Calle Infanta resident told this paper, saying she observes its traffic and its opulence on a daily basis.
The fact that there’s never been any lack of raw materials at the establishment, that its prices have never done anything but increase, and that its owners are a mystery… it all raises some suspicions. And now that they’ve opened an outlet at the airport – another privileged location – it only multiplies these suspicions even more…
Translated by Ricardo Recluso
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