Cintron Floribbean restaurant is one of the best local Gainesville restaurants that blends Caribbean food and Floridian food. The exoticness of their delicacies places Cintron high on Byppo's radar. This past week, I enjoyed interviewing Hector Cintron, the founder and head chef of Cintron Floribbean, and his family, who help him run the restaurant.
Cintron opened around Labor day, 2020, amid the pandemic. Opening a restaurant during that time is no easy task, but Cintron established many safety COVID-19 precautions that ensured its customers' safety. First, 80% of all their customers dine out in the open patio. The tables outside are spread at least six feet apart from one another to enable proper social distancing. Second, unlike many other local Gainesville restaurants, Cintron jumped into the business fully prepared for the COVID-19 obstacles, which prevented them from significant uncertainty throwbacks.
COVID-19 caused great misfortunes, but the trouble was what pushed Hector Cintron to open his Floribbean restaurant. Hector originally intended on living comfortably as a chef at a respectable restaurant in South Florida.
He told me,
"I felt comfortable, you know. I've been working there for so many years. There were great benefits, and I've worked so hard to get to that point."
But like many others, Hector was laid off when COVID-19 stormed the nation. He was forced out of his comfort zone and realized that this misfortune can be altered into something life-changing for him. He called many of his trusted family members, and as a unit, they got Cintron Floribbean off the ground in less than two months.
Hector told me,
"If it weren't for my family, it never would have been possible."
The entire restaurant is family operated and ran. Hector invents the recipes and spends days marinating the dishes to create an impactful flavor.
For the Duck Stuffed Tostones, Hector said,
"I marinate the meat for 24 hours, then let it cool down for four more hours. I do two sauces separately, so it's a three or four-day process just to create that one dish."
Wanda, Cintron's co-owner and Hector's sister, works in the front of the house, managing the servers and providing the best customer service. To her and the servers, providing a superior customer experience has always been the goal. They want their customers to feel like a part of the family, and they show it. They ensure that every suggestion is heard and addressed.
Alongside the wonderful people who make Cintron feel like home, the environment and the atmosphere enables that comfort with its zen decorations. In the center of the patio, you'll find a tall fountain surrounded by wondrous flowers that seem to glitter in the sunlight. Thin green fences run across the perimeters and create a comfortable space that feels like an adult pillow fort. Gorgeous greenery rest by your side as you sit amazed at the great, fantastic Chuleta Kan Kan dish. It is no wonder why so many people throw birthdays at Cintron because of the environment's intimacy. Its outdoor patio is one of the best in Gainesville.
"I want that family environment to cascade down with the servers and into my customers. I don't want customers thinking that they're just a number. I want them to feel the coziness of family and feel like their suggestions and concerns are heard."
As one of Gainesville's best restaurants, Cintron continues to innovate exciting new dishes that'll make Gainesville foods more well-known across Florida. Companioned with the close family bonds, Cintron hopes to spread joy and intimacy to every customer that visits.