With heavy hearts, Versailles announces the passing of our beloved founder, Felipe A. Valls, Sr. 🇨🇺🇺🇸🤍
Con profundo dolor, Versailles anuncia el fallecimiento de nuestro querido fundador, Felipe A. Valls, Sr. 🇨🇺🇺🇸🤍
The Cuban exile community has lost one of its pillars, restaurateur and businessman Felipe A. Valls, Sr.
The son of Felipe L. Valls and Dolores Bravo, Valls was born on March 8, 1933, in Santiago de Cuba, where he had a wonderful childhood. In 1947, his parents sent him to the United States to attend high school at the prestigious Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, Georgia.
Upon graduating in 1950, he returned to his hometown to begin his journey as an entrepreneur. Valls owned several successful businesses, including gas stations, a restaurant, and the popular Lido Supper Club. He later opened a large manufacturing plant for burlap bags for the cement industry, and he represented the Brockway Bottle Co., which supplied bottles to different liquor companies in Cuba, including Bacardi.
With the rise of communism and Fidel Castro in Cuba, Valls’ businesses were eventually expropriated. In 1960, a 27-year-old Valls fled his beloved homeland with his wife Aminta Viso, seven months pregnant with daughter, Jeannette, their four-year-old daughter Leticia, and two-year-old son Felipe, Jr. Like so many other Cuban exiles, he found himself in a new country having lost it all and having to start anew. Soon, he landed a job selling used restaurant equipment and convinced the owner to lend him money to import espresso machines from Italy and Spain, knowing that Cubans longed for their shots of cafecito. Valls then acquired Badia’s restaurant in Little Havana and grew it into a popular Cuban spot, which he later sold to raise capital to acquire the now famous place where he first opened Versailles as a small coffee shop in 1971. He later opened the first La Carreta, which has grown to become a chain of Cuban family-style restaurants, the iconic Spanish restaurant El Cid, and Copacabana, a nightclub popular in the 1980s. Keep reading in the comments below. ...