A beaming neon sign boldly glows above Carlyle At The Omni Diner, where checkered floors, rock 'n' roll jukebox tunes, and classic diner fare rewind reality to the 1950s. Short-order cooks whip up breakfast items until 10:30 a.m. each day, firing up their griddle to build towers of buttermilk pancakes and smaller duplexes out of belgian waffles. Lunch and dinnertime eats include classic deli sandwiches, specialty salads, and pizzas, which all wash down with coffee and tea. Open during business hours, the diner welcomes business people staying at the hotel to sink into plush red booths while nibbling cheesecake and pouring ketchup over their expense reports.
In 2002, entrepreneur Jeremy Merrin teamed with fellow restaurant mogul Arlene Spiegel and head chef Stanley Licairac to establish Havana Central, a family-friendly enterprise based on lively Latin music and the rich flavors of Cuban cuisine. The food of Cuba draws from disparate influences across the globe⎯Spanish, French, African, Chinese, and indigenous cultures⎯manifesting into tender skirt-steak ropa vieja, empanadas stuffed with savory meats and goat cheese, and salmon, chicken, and shrimp marinated in tangy citrus juices.
Though the restaurant's leafy palms and tropical cocktails hint at the freewheeling good times of 1950s Havana, the staff pairs their joie de vivre with social responsibility, specifically by donating to local charities and taking on numerous green initiatives. As guests sip mojitos and sangria and sup upon slow-roasted meats and chicken sofrito, a lineup of live entertainment keeps feet moving in rhythm. Interactive events include salsa-dance lessons, charanga bands, and reenactments of the charge up San Juan Hill.
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