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Fourth Cubanos ATL opening in Belen de la Cruz Empanadas & Pastries

For small businesses looking to grow, the cost of rent, labor shortages and rising prices of food can be a difficult barrier to surmount. Cubanos ATL, a Cuban sandwich and coffee shop, is finding creative ways to overcome these challenges and open a fourth location right in Cobb County.

Cubanos ATL will open inside the existing Belen de la Cruz Empanadas & Pastries at 1050 E Piedmont Road in Marietta on May 25.

Ozzy Llanes, owner of Cubanos ATL, and Belen de la Cruz, owner of Belen de la Cruz Empanadas & Pastries, met on social media in 2020. The two restaurant owners found plenty in common and began thinking of ways to work together.

“We’ve been talking with Ozzy to partner since we met, really,” De la Cruz said. “We both opened in a pandemic two years ago, and we have the same style, and we’re both immigrants, and we’ve been talking since then to partner together.”

With the rising cost of rent and the expenses of running a restaurant, Llanes suggested they combine their restaurants at De la Cruz’s Marietta location to create a one-stop shop for Cuban sandwiches, empanadas, pastries and Cuban coffee.

Llanes and De la Cruz already had similar styles, so combining their restaurants wasn’t a big challenge. Since they will be selling both of their products from the same counter, all they had to do was add Cubano ATL’s logo to the door, Llanes said.

“I mean, the basic thing of what we’re trying to accomplish, from our morals and how we interact with people, clients and employees are the same,” Llanes said.

Combining the restaurants will also combine their existing customer bases, Llanes said. He is excited for his customers to try De la Cruz’s empanadas and pastries, and for De la Cruz’s customers to try the Cuban sandwiches.

Llanes’ Cuban sandwiches are made from scratch in the same place every day with fresh ingredients to ensure that every sandwich is consistent. It offers authentic Tampa-style Cubans that come with salami as well as Miami-style Cubans that are salami-free. Alongside the El Tampa and El Miami sandwiches, it offers El Pollo Especial, which comes with sliced jerk chicken breast instead of ham, and a vegan option with vegan ham.

“Our only thing that we do is sandwiches, so we can offer the best ingredients, the most consistent way of making it,” Llanes said.

Cubanos ATL also has an extensive Cuban coffee menu and Latin drink selection. The three Latin sodas include Junipa which tastes like a pineapple soda, Materva which is a yerba mate soda and Iron Beer which has a cream soda flavor. The sodas are difficult to find and mostly sold in Miami, Llanes said.

The Cuban coffee is Llanes’ pride and joy, and his own personal favorite is the Cortadito which is half espresso and half milk.

“It’s our own blend,” Llanes said. “We don’t buy storefront coffee or anything like that. We created our own blend from having my parents involved.”

Llanes’ parents, who he estimates drink around six cups of Cuban coffee a day, helped select the best flavor for Cubanos ATL’s coffee, which is made locally in Sandy Springs. Cuban coffee tends to have a combination of different coffee beans, and the beans are roasted a little more than French and Italian coffee, Llanes said.

“The more you roast it the darker it becomes and the more powerful it becomes,” Llanes said. “We have to make sure we find the right combination of not too toasty so it doesn’t become bitter.”

Llanes said he is excited to partner with De la Cruz and her family, and he hopes the partnership is successful so they can continue working together.

“The combination is perfect because I think we’re giving the customer another option, you know, at the same place,” De la Cruz said. “It’s not just a regular sandwich, it’s a Cuban sandwich, in the same way that this is not a regular empanada, it’s an Argentinian empanada.”

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José Martí
José Martí
Nacionalista cubano, poeta, filósofo, ensayista, periodista, traductor, profesor y editor.

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