The 100-year old tall chimney of the former abandoned and derelict cooking-oil factory is a landmark on the edge of Vedado in Havana, near to the Almendares River. While proposals have come and gone for decades on what to do with Battersea Power Station in London, now thankfully moving at full steam ahead, the rock, hip-hop, Afro-Cuban fusion musician X-Alfonso, htaking advantage of the new freedom for private restaurants introduced by the Cuban Government, which still owns the building, and has created a popular international-quality venue for evening cocktails on the rooftop terrace or for food in the restaurant areas, so popular that booking is almost essential.
Visitors enter through a small door at the base of the chimney to climb up to the rooftop bar and restaurant level. The climate helps, of course, with the ability to enjoy warm evenings outside for most of the year, while there are also indoor restaurant areas. The arts theme of the adjacent La Fábrica de Arte Cubano, which can be viewed through the lofty windows of the main factory building, is taken up in the décor including the moving light installation inside the chimney itself, worth climbing up a further staircase to see, old enamel signs and arty lettering graphics on the toilet walls – what can you read here? Furniture is contemporary including some that ironically is the same as used in Wapping Food in London, formerly also in an old industrial building, but sadly now closed.
Havana is a city of contrasts; a huge amount needs to be done, but creative partnerships between entrepreneurs such as X-Alfonso and the Cuban Government are transforming the bar and restaurant scene in Cuba and hopefully will act as a catalyst for improvement in the adjacent area.