Home Essex County Cubita Café Opening Soon in Nutley

Cubita Café Opening Soon in Nutley

by Diana Cooper
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There’s a new Cuban restaurant opening soon in Nutley called Cubita Café. Located at 234 Franklin Avenue, Cubita is founded by Chef Gustavo Gutierrez who is also known as Hudson Chef. Read on to learn more about Cubita Café.

cubita cafe storefront

^ Cubita’s logo was designed by Infinite™ Design Studio

(Photo credit: @hudsonchef)

Hudson Chef’s Story 

Before owner Chef Gustavo, who goes by Gus, started working on the new restaurant he helped open 20 restaurants all over the area including several in Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport. 

During quarantine, he had the idea to open his own restaurant. “I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to open one for myself. I have the experience,’” Gus tells Montclair Girl.

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“I was selling empanadas out of my home, but before that, I’ve done everything. I was working at Pharmacie Bar in Montclair. I was three doors down from Cuban Pete’s and I was selling a sandwich for like $18 we called it the fancy Cuban sandwich, made up of Serrano ham and passion fruit mustard. I’d sell out every night and I’m three doors down from a Cuban restaurant, so I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, there’s something here.’”

empanadas cubita cafe nutley nj

(Photo credit: @hudsonchef)

The fine-dining chef, who also worked at one of the premier kosher restaurants in the tri-state area, says Cuba is “a big part” of his culture. Being stuck at home during the pandemic with a wife who was pregnant at the time also inspired him to grow his business. 

“I posted a picture [of empanadas] and people were like, ‘Can I buy some?’ and it just turned into a full-blown business. I started doing that and it just kind of took off,’” Gus, a Union City native, shares.

Finding the Perfect Location

The Cuban restaurant owner, who might be recognizable from being on Food Network’s Chopped show, says he wanted to find a place that was close to home since he’d be spending many hours at the cafe.

cubita cafe empanadas

^ The everything bagel empanada

(Photo Credit: @hudsonchef)

Gus looked at 30 spaces before deciding on 234 Franklin Ave, which just happened to be the very first spot he looked at. “There’s a high school (Nutley High School) a block away. I live six blocks away. My daughter’s one so I want to be close to home. It just made sense,” Gus says.

Upon opening, Cubita will cater to the students who attend the schools nearby. 

“There are 1,200 kids that get out at the same time every day, so to facilitate that demand is going to be difficult. In the beginning, we’re going to keep our menu very limited. Then we’re going to expand the menu further down the road,” the owner shares.

cubita cafe coffee

(Photo Credit: @cubitacafenj)

So, what’s going to be on the menu? The main items will be homemade empanadas, including Chef Gus’ famous everything bagel empanada; Papas Rellenas (stuffed mashed potato balls); and croquetas (croquettes). Everything will be made from scratch. There will also be sandwiches, desserts, shakes, and coffee. 

“We have a really big coffee culture. We have coffee that’s brought in just for us and is roasted to our liking,” Gus says. “So not only are we going to sell coffee, we’re going to sell it by the pound so you can take a bag home with you and we’ll grind it however you want. The coffee is exclusive to our brand.”

A Cuban Vibe 

Visiting Cubita Café is going to be like stepping foot in another country. But, Gus says although Cuban culture is “very old school,” he wanted to do “something different.”

cubita cafe interior design

^ Biggie Smalls painting by artist Mike Ferrari

(Photo Credit: @cubitacafenj)

“We combined hip-hop culture with Cuban culture. Everything in there is very clean, very modern. We have a couple of Kaws pieces, who is a very popular artist right now. He’s actually originally a graffiti artist from Jersey City.”

Although the new eatery won’t open until January, it’s already gained a social media following with fans of Hudson Chef who are eager for it to open.

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“I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew. First impressions are everything, so I want to make sure whatever customer walks in becomes a repeat customer,” he says. “Our thing is to try to get the ball rolling slowly, make sure everybody’s comfortable, and then we’ll do a big [grand opening] announcement.”

cubita cafe opening nutley nj

(Photo Credit: @cubitacafenj)

Gus anticipates making about 1,000 empanadas a day and having them sell out “so fast.” To make it quick and convenient for customers, the business is working on an app so that customers can order ahead of time. 

Cubita Café’s hours of operation will be 6AM to 6PM. To stay in the know for when Cubita Café opens, be sure to follow its Instagram found here.

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