Moreno’s Cuba

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Musician and Owner of Moreno’s Cuba, Jorge Moreno with @LaurenRigau

It has been so long since the last time I interviewed Jorge Moreno… in fact, it was on a show I hosted when I was merely 13 Years Old called ‘TeenTalk’ on NBC in South Florida! Yes, I know that may come as a shock, but I have been working since I was just a tot. That encounter, our first interview, occurred right after Moreno’s 2002 win for Best New Artist at the Latin Grammy Awards. It was an interview I would never forget, a highlight for me as it was a classic for the ‘Teen Talk’ series; go figure, he even made me blush as he took out his guitar and serenaded our show with an a cappella performance of one of his hit songs ’16’… and being that I was the ‘6 Teen Reporter’ at the time it made a swell suit.

It has been 10 years since then and respectively our careers have morphed new pages for our books, the Past few years alone have been a whirlwind, especially for Jorge. So when I sat down with him to chat about his new venture, I first and foremost had to ask, which experience over the past ten years had imprinted most on his life, I expected him to refer to his career, but his response was all the better…

“Having children, never thought I was a kid person, I always treated friends kids like pets, a pat on the head and a half smile. But having my own made all the other events in my life second.”

Jorge Moreno’s music is as unique as the singer himself… A well fused blend of Latin flavors intricately blend with decades of nostalgia ranging from the legendary 1930s Cuban Maestro Beny Moré to the pop and rock influx from the 80s and today. Moreno was born and spent his formidable years growing up in Miami, Florida after his parents sought refuge in the United States from the Communist dictatorship that was ravaging the Island of Cuba had taken hold and that same perseverance of his parents embodies a constant presence in the aura of his music. So @TheYLife wondered when we would be hearing new tracks?

“I have a bunch of new songs that are recorded and ready to go.. I’m just waiting to get the right partner to launch it through. I’m way to busy to try and go at it alone.”

Possibly not known to many yet, except just maybe the occasional movie star and the cast of Entourage who just last week culminated their movie shoot in Miami at the Riviera Hotel’s Moreno’s Cuba… This may just be Moreno’s bravest venture, springing right into the restaurant business and we were surprised to know this is an entirely new arena for the star, who has been quite the chameleon in his 39 years…

“Yes, so far in my life I’ve… sold ice cream, was a file clerk for an insurance company at 16, designed and made t-shirts in high- school, became a photographer, an internet web-master at 21,  a singer/ song- writer, unofficial real estate agent, own a TV production company (where I produce and edit), sold antique cars, have an ATM machine company, founded a new social media app and now I own a bar/restaurant!  Pretty bizarre huh? Wanna buy a watch?”

Admit-tingly Moreno’s doting sense of humor will never cease to amuse you as he mingles his way through ‘Moreno’s Cuba’ either with his guitar for entertainment, mixing up his famous cocktails or grabbing a seat at your table and telling a great little anecdotal tale of his fast paced life, all which makes the experience that much more enchanting. So, I just had to know how different or similar running a restaurant is to song writing?

“It’s not.. But, it is similar to having a band! Everyones always late and possibly stoned”

Oh boy… I jolted a quick giggle with that- see what I said about that ‘doting wit’! Well inspiration for ‘Moreno’s Cuba’ was a topic we had to touch on, before wrapping up our chat- I was just waiting to hear how Family and Travels had played a role… 

“I really just wanted a bar to be able to play and hang out in- (every singers dream, right?) But then, my partner, who owns the hotel, asked me to offer the guests breakfast because they need to do so as a 4 star hotel! Then if we had breakfast and the bar is open at night… we might as well have lunch and dinner! So somehow I got wrapped into being a full fledged restaurant.. and people LOVE it!”

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Love it they do! You see, the second you walk into the garden corridor that is ‘Moreno’s Cuba’, you are thrown back in time by the nostalgia of the tiles, lighting features and vintage cameras, heaters, books and frames that adorn the Cuba 1930’s bar. I myself have a soft spot for all things vintage so I wondered just how long it took for Jorge to collect all of the ‘detalles‘ (details in Spanish) that give ‘Moreno’s’ its edge?

“The bar and decor is very much like my house. In fact, I took many things from my house and brought them here! I am an old soul and junk and treasure collector.”

And the treasures go far beyond the nestled vintage props… One of the unique qualities of ‘Moreno’s’ is that at any given moment you could be dining with Grammy Award winning artists, who are so enthralled by the mystique, that they will join the house band in serenading guests, as it just so happened to me on my visit, when Moreno picked up a guitar and canoodled his way table by table making sure everyone felt the joy of music touch their soul as quickly as his famous Moreno Mojitos do!

“Well thanks, but it’s not only me that can serenade you, there are loads of talented musicians coming thru here that I have the honor of performing with. And also some of them are Grammy Award winners too.”

And I couldn’t finish our evening with Jorge Moreno without asking for his favorite dish picks on his ‘Moreno’s Menu’?

“My Favorite is the Lechon Asado, but many people like the Moreno’s Chorizo”

Try Moreno’s Cuba, located at: The Riviera Hotel… 318 20th Street, Miami Beach

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