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(Miami, FL) July 2, 2009— “Home is where the heart is,” as they say. For many Cuban immigrants there is no truer expression. Forced out of their native land the Cuban ex patriot community still holds very strong and passionate ties to their former country. It is the pairing of two Americans with no Cuban DNA, which fell in love with Cuban culture, and are trying to spread just a little taste of the Cuba to those who have never experienced it. After successfully opening and operating La Bodeguita del Medio® restaurant out of Palo Alto, California Michael and Lara Ekwall have plans to expand into new locations with South Florida as an obvious destination.

Michael Ekwall, an adventurous Californian, visited Cuba while an undergraduate student at the University of California in Los Angeles. His introduction to the original La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana came in the early 1990’s. Ekwall became enamored with the rich history of this simple yet charming watering hole that hosted Ernest Hemingway, Nat King Cole, Marilyn Monroe, and other celebrities during its heyday. Enchanted by the Cuban food, music, and art, it was during this visit that Ekwall decided bring back with him a little piece of Havana heaven.

After graduating, Ekwall obtained a U.S. trade mark of the name and opened up his Palo Alto, California restaurant in 1997. Ekwall and wife Lara took great care in capturing the essence and charisma of the original restaurant. One will find no trendy décor or a hokey replication of the original though certain details like the sign over the door pay homage to the Havana Locale. All in all, they have managed to create their own concept while showing true appreciation for the original. La Bodeguita del Medio Palo Alto is a simple yet charming restaurant that brings Havana’s ambiance and a tropical feel to Palo Alto locals. Original art work by Cuban artists adorn the walls as patrons sit for Cuban-inspired dishes while sipping on delicious mojito cocktails, made famous by the original restaurant in Havana. The walk-in humidor offers the very best cigars for patrons to enjoy in the divan or on the patio. Now, Twelve years after opening their doors, Michael and Lara want to share this slice of paradise with others outside the Bay Area.

The Ekwalls have begun the search for an established chef who can carry out their vision and retain the quality for which they have become known. They discovered the importance of having a shared vision with their partners as they once licensed the Bodeguita name to a Miami local who ultimately did not. The Ekwalls sought to stay true to the character of La Bodeguita when entering the Miami market. Thus, they revoked the license, believing that the Miami entrepreneur was compromising the “La Bodeguita del Medio” name, which has both historical and sentimental significance.

With a commitment to excellence (which has earned them countless positive reviews for food and service in Palo Alto) they are looking forward to bringing their vision of this Cuban icon to South Florida. They hope that South Floridians will enjoy its friendly, relaxed atmosphere and the melding of old and new. La Bodeguita del Medio has become a brand with a 12-year history in the U.S. and the Ekwalls hope to welcome everyone in South Florida soon to a new La Bodeguita del Medio that will make them feel right at home.

For media inquires, and interviews, please contact Creativas Group at or 305.968.2384. For images: Please contact Creativas. OR CLICK HERE VENUE: MIKE & LARA EKWALL:

Creativas Group Inc. provides public relations and marketing counsel to South Florida-based businesses, nationally recognized special events and leading non-profit organizations. For more information, please log onto or email info @ Photographs and interviews are available by request.


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