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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Caguas showcases its gastronomic diversity at inaugural forum

El Grifo Craft Beer & Vegan Joint in Caguas has been featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

By Richard Gutiérrez

Most people would agree that eating out is something enjoyable, which is why restaurants on the island tend to be full, especially on the weekends. Even though many people enjoy the luxury of sitting at a table with friends and family enjoying a nice dish, maintaining a restaurant takes a lot of work and sometimes trial and error, as food business sales are never guaranteed considering that they aren’t selling essential items like supermarkets or pharmacies do.

Caguas, however, has seen a lot of success in terms of restaurants and other food stops. Due to the overwhelming amount of cafeterias, restaurants and food trucks, the Caguas municipal administration decided to have its first ever gastronomy forum at the Centro Criollo de Ciencias y Tecnología, commonly known as C3TEC, on Thursday morning. It was a chance for many food business owners to enjoy different speakers and listen to numerous success stories from various food business owners around the city.

The event was organized by Zamia Baerga, the municipal economic development secretary. Mayor William Miranda Torres delivered opening remarks.

“The diverse and large amount of gastronomy that has been established in the city distinguishes us as an entity important in the tourism of Puerto Rico and in the programs and initiatives related directly and indirectly to this line,” the mayor said. “This is the product of planned and strategic management from our Economic Development Secretariat that includes: direct support for businesses, and economic subsidies and tax incentives provided to the city’s merchants/businessmen. Thanks to these efforts, today we have in Caguas more than 250 food and drink establishments, including restaurants, cafes and food trucks, among others. In addition, we offer more than 10 gastro-tourism experiences aimed at the cruise ship and group market, and more than 30 gastronomic routes around the city.”

Norma Lizardi, the municipality’s tourism director, told the STAR meanwhile that “we believed it was prudent to have a forum touching many topics so that people get to know different success stories, so that they know people who had a dream and worked hard for it.”

One of those success stories is restaurant owner Loumiri Sánchez López.

“Years ago I had an idea to start something of my own,” Sánchez López told the STAR. “Originally I wanted to make an artisanal beer bar, but when we presented the idea to the municipality they told us that if we were going to sell alcohol we had to have food, so as a vegan it was a bit of a wall for me because I was vegan so I was afraid that it wouldn’t work because I thought somebody who wants to drink craft beer wouldn’t want to eat vegan food. So I decided to make a vegan restaurant and marry the two concepts of artisanal beer and vegan food.”

Her restaurant, El Grifo, has seen so much success, in fact, that it was featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and is quite popular with people from all over the island.

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