A trip to Cuba in 2015 with his brother David was the base of inspiration for chef Bebe Gonzalez’s The Cube Inn, a 40-seat restaurant he opened with wife, Megan, this past August.
Gonzalez grew up in Tarrytown, but his parents, uncle, and oldest brother were born in Cuba. “[Cuban] people are full of passion,” says Gonzalez. “There’s music and dancing on every corner. I went into the kitchens, talked to the chefs, and though the resources are slim, they were inventive and made a lot with a little. It was exciting to see.”
In 2018, he put his 10-year-old Babalu’Q Cuban-cuisine catering business on pause and started in earnest to transform the space of the Green Machine Laundromat he owned at 22 Main Street Tarrytown into a bastion of Cuban food and drink.
They had been open just a few months when the pandemic hit, which forced a shutdown until reopening in August. Despite the uncertain times, the couple never considered not moving forward.
“It was this or nothing,” says Megan. “We had no other plan or option, so we knew we had to make this work.”
Bebe is a self-taught chef, with much of the learning coming from family. He spent summers as a young person helping out his uncle David and aunt Reina at their two restaurants in Miami. His father was once executive chef at Westchester Country Club and Sleepy Hollow Country Club. “The first dish I made was picadillo at age 8 or 9 with my mom.”
No surprise the menu consists of all family recipes. “The food is a culmination of cultures — French, Spanish, African, Island,” says Bebe, who explains the central ingredients of Cuban cuisine include garlic, peppers, onions, tomatoes, lime, cumin, and slow-roasted and marinated pork and chicken. Ropa vieja (slow-roasted, shredded beef in a tomato-based sauce), camarones al ajillo (garlic shrimp), and vegan paella are among their most popular dishes.
There’s a late-night menu, too, 9 p.m. – 2 a.m., offering empanadas, croquetas, and wings. For dessert: mother Elaine Gonzalez’s flan; to drink are red and white sangrias with fresh fruit, or mojitos, including the Flamingo (white rum, strawberries, mint, lime, club soda).
Says Bebe, “We want people to feel they’ve come into our house for a traditional Cuban dinner.”
The Cube Inn
22 Main St, Tarrytown