Nina Valdes has always wanted to own and operate her own restaurant.
As a licensed practical nurse working at Wills Memorial Hospital in Washington, she and her husband, Albert, would often drive past the old Sonic drive-in on Hill Street in Thomson. Mrs. Valdes' husband would say, 'You know that would make a really good location for a sandwich shop,' she recalled last week during an interview.
It wasn't long before the Thomson couple pursued the idea. And for them, it paid off.
They now are the owners of Havana Cafe, which is set to open in October.
"This is like a dream come true for me," said Mrs. Valdes. "I am so excited about owning and operating my own restaurant."
The building that will house the new Cuban-style cafe currently is being renovated. Once that part of the project has been completed, the old Sonic restaurant will take on the look of a Spanish-style restaurant, Ms. Valdes said.
"We're going to have Spanish tile floors and a Spanish look on the outside," said Mrs. Valdes. "We're even going to set up some tables and chairs for outside dining."
The new Havana Cafe also will have seating at tables inside, as well as take-out service.
Her entire family will be involved in the new Thomson business, including her two daughters, Ashley and Lauren, as well as the couple's son, Albert, 13.
"Everybody in the family is going to be working here and are very excited about us opening," said Mrs. Valdes. "They can't wait for that to happen."
Havana Cafe will offer a wide variety of Cuban-style sandwiches, as well as many side orders prepared fresh onsite to go with any choice meal. Two of their most popular sandwiches are sure to be the Cuban pork sandwich and the Cuban Midnight sandwich, which is made with pork, ham and swiss cheese. Some of the delicious side orders will include white rice and bean soup.
The cafe is expected to be open from 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.