Il­lus­tra­tions / Ilus­tra­ciones: Cour­tesy of AlaMesa It’s hard to be­lieve that af­ter its first five years AlaMesa, the mul­ti­plat­form that has pleased to a great ex­tent the in­ter­ests of the in­cip­i­ent cul­ture of the dig­i­tal foodie in Cuba, emerged em­pir­i­cally. It’s hard to be­lieve, but not so much be­cause more than once it has made the news in Forbes, The New York Times or the BBC, or even be­cause Pres­i­dent Barack Obama him­self men­tioned it in his speech to the Cuban en­trepreneurs dur­ing his visit to Ha­vana.

The orig­i­nal em­piri­cism of the Cuban Direc­tory of Restau­rants, the full name of the brand as well as the dec­la­ra­tion of prin­ci­ples, is ques­tion­able be­cause to­day it is a solid, highly func­tional en­ter­prise, in­te­grated in sev­eral chan­nels, and with a self­sus­tain­able busi­ness model.

A web­site with more than 800 listed lo­cales in 12 prov­inces; a cell­phone apps for An­droid and iOS sys­tems, star prod­uct for those not con­nected; and a weekly e-bul­letin are di­verse al­ter­na­tives for the com­plex and re­duced tech­no­log­i­cal panorama of this Caribbean is­land. All this sus­tained by a team of pro­fes­sion­als who love it with all their heart and af­firm they fully have it cov­ered in a sin­gle di­rec­tion: for­ward.

But yes, even though to­day it might not seem like it, it be­gan like the ma­jor­ity of the busi­nesses in Cuba and its new wave of pro­mot­ing “self- em­ploy­ment”: with­out the slight­est idea of what they were do­ing. Be­tween beers and dis­cus­sions, at times in an of­fice on the Avenida del Puerto, at times at one of their homes, an en­gi­neer, a pro­fes­sor and his former stu­dent, gave life to AlaMesa. There was mo­ti­va­tion, the op­por­tu­nity came up, and the rest was to fol­low the thread of the idea: the users them­selves en­light­ened them.

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