Although the coronavirus pandemic (Covid -19) has been a difficult scenario for economic development, it has not been able to stop the desire for progress of entrepreneurs such as Bryan Rivera and Gerardo García, who intend to fill the urban area of Arecibo with flavor and culture. through The Library.
It is a new gastronomic corner, located at 210 Santiago Iglesias street, in the historic building that formerly occupied the Municipal Library and that until 2017 housed the municipal office of the State Department, where literature is the protagonist.
The space opened a month ago – August 1 – with a creative cuisine proposal by chef Jonathan Santiago. At the moment, its culinary proposal is summarized as a variety of hamburgers, tacos, ‘arancinis’ and creams made with local and seasonal products. In addition, they serve daily a main dish that they recognize as “the chef’s specialty” and a variety of cocktails made by Gabriela Ortega, all with names from books, ”explained the businessman.
Among the emblematic dishes are the ‘Great Gatsby’, a burger with ‘cheddar’ cheese, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onion and a whiskey glaze and Moby Dick (‘arancinis’ stuffed ‘risotto’ with salmorejo de Jueyes accompanied by white clam sauce ). In the cocktail bar, the Diary of Anne Frank (vodka, Jamaica flower, passion fruit pulp and basil) and Don Quixote (a mixture of three whiskeys, pomegranate liqueur and ginger syrup), are the main ones.
A CHARMING CONCEPT IS BORN
Rivera and García are two 28-year-old boys, friends since kindergarten, who for years have shared the dream of having their own business. Rivera, has a background in Accounting and Business Administration; while García has five years of experience in the kitchen and has worked in several restaurants in the Villa del Capitán Correa.
In the summer of 2019, they decided to shape the business idea they had already been working on, a restaurant that would serve as a showcase for young talents (musicians, artists, writers or poets, among others), as well as an oasis for those who enjoy any of these disciplines of art.
In the search for premises, the young people saw a dozen establishments where they were looking for a way to adapt their main idea. However, the search was not successful.
“Gerardo liked this building that had been abandoned since Hurricane María, because it suffered structural damage. When we did not find a location, we reached the municipality with a proposal, which was accepted and finally became our location, ”said Rivera.
The transformation of the place took several months and required hard work of cleaning and reconditioning due to the damages suffered during the atmospheric phenomenon. However, the duo of businessmen counted on the collaboration of family and friends, who contributed ideas and labor to design a cozy space with a classic touch that evokes the history of the building.
“We used some things that were in the place and we received some donations and, little by little, we gave shape to it,” added Garcia.
The Library has a main dining room to seat up to 60 people that is currently enabled for 16, a ‘lounge’ area that will make you feel at home (not available at the moment), an interior patio with space to seat up to 24 diners -which they will eventually use for musical events and a bar area. All decorated with books -which can be exchanged as in the old libraries-, old telephones, grand piano and paintings, among other elements that will make the Library the favorite space for lovers of the arts and reading.
“This was the library and we wanted to maintain the same atmosphere,” said Rivera.
A VERY HARD START
The opening of the Library was scheduled for the month of May, since when they began to work on the project the pandemic had not reached them, but the quarantine came when the project was still halfway through. “We hoped that when the time came to open the situation it would have dissipated, but it was not like that and we had to start because the debts began to run,” Garcia said.
Then, on August 1, they finally opened their doors with protocols and precautionary measures in place, in compliance with the executive order.
“Diners’ safety is the most important thing to us, so it has been difficult for us to have to tell people that we are 25% full. So we resorted to making reservations and thus avoiding crowding of the public while waiting ”, explained the new entrepreneurs.
The Library is open from Wednesday to Friday from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm; Saturday from 12:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Although they offer the public the possibility of ordering to pick up or take away (in case they arrive at the place), although most prefer to enjoy the experience of consuming in the restaurant.
For this, its owners have established a detailed protocol that includes taking the temperature at the entrance of the establishment, providing hand sanitizer to the guests, remembering to use a mask while they are not drinking or eating food, keeping a count of people inside the premises. and they do not accept more than four people per table.