There’s a Cuban restaurant in Nutley that you need to check out called Cubita Café. Located at 234 Franklin Avenue, Cubita is founded by Chef Gustavo Gutierrez – also known as Hudson Chef. The MG Team recently stopped by for a visit and to snack on some tasty Cuban deliciousness. Read on to learn more about Cubita Café.
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 told The 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.’”
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, shared.
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.
Gus looked at 30 spaces before deciding on 234 Franklin Avenue, 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 said.
Cubita caters to the students who attend the schools nearby.
So, what’s on the menu? The main items include homemade empanadas, including Chef Gus’ famous everything bagel empanada; Papas Rellenas (stuffed mashed potato balls); and croquetas (croquettes). Everything is made from scratch. There’s also 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 said. Cubita Café also sells coffee by the pound so you can make your own at home.
A Cuban Vibe
Visiting Cubita Café is like stepping foot in another country. But, Gus says although Cuban culture is “very old school,” he wanted to do “something different.”
“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.”
Cubita Café’s hours of operation are 6AM to 6PM. You can follow the spot on it its Instagram, found here.