Zuly Fernandez (second from left) leaves the majority of the cooking to her “partner in crime” Hilda and Chef Luisa while Kenia welcomes all new and returning customers with a warm familiar smile.

Old Towne location already welcoming repeat customers

Zuly Fernandez (second from left) leaves the majority of the cooking to her “partner in crime” Hilda and Chef Luisa while Kenia welcomes all new and returning customers with a warm familiar smile.

Cuba native Maria de los Angeles Fernandez, better known simply as “Zuly” retired from 26 years as an air traffic controller and decided there was only so much fishing that could fill her time in the Florida Keys.

Though she was ready to open in the spring, Marathon’s waste and stormwater projects required several additional variances and special permit requests that delayed the initial opening.

Since a soft opening on July 16, Fernandez said she and her team of smiling faces have been hosting a steady stream of repeat local customers as well as high foot traffic from Tranquility Bay Resort just across the street from her Old Towne Marathon location.

“It’s the best!” Michael Ruiz proclaimed as he grabbed a post-lunch Cuban coffee at Juice Paradise Cuban Café.

It goes without saying that a Cuban café requires the signature bread and right cuts of meat as well as proportionate condiments and accoutrements for one of the country’s signature sandwiches. But Juice Paradise is remaining true to their name and offering fresh-squeezed natural juices in a gorgeous array of flavors!

This week, we quickly slurped down a large watermelon juice as well as an orange and carrot juice that tasted all the more delectable with bits of pulp in the bottom of our cups! From mango and papaya to pineapple and tamarind juice, the ladies of Juice Paradise will gladly offer any combination of flavors for your own customized favorite juice flavor.

If you try a juice you love but don’t feel like purchasing a pile of fruit and your own expensive juicer only to occupy a diminishing amount of space on your kitchen counter, Juice Paradise offers half gallons of freshly squeezed juice to purchase and take home.

The Choripan is a Spanish sausage sandwich topped with grilled onions served on Cuban bread.

We kicked off our lunch Wednesday afternoon by ordering a sampling of sandwiches. A couple of the café’s most popular choices are the steak sandwich – a palomilla steak topped with grilled onions, lettuce and tomatoes – or the Cuban burger – a patty of ground beef and Spanish sausage topped with grilled onions, lettuce, tomato and shoestring potatoes.

The Elena Ruth sounded simply too intriguing to pass up. Fernandez said the sandwich is based on the true story of a woman who frequented a café in Cuba but always specified exactly what she wanted on her sandwich instead of ordering from the menu. What sounded too sweet for midday sustenance turned out to be like lunch and dessert in each delicious little bite. The Elena Ruth is stuffed with smoked turkey and ham, cream cheese and strawberry jelly on sweet egg dough bread – this is a must try!

Each of the sandwich options is served with just the right amount of papas fritas or Cuban fries with the most expensive option still running you less than $7.

Kenia served one of the daily special dishes to a regular customer.

The prices on the breakfast menu items are also tough to beat. For $5.50, you can grab two eggs, ham or bacon, fries, Cuban toast and a cup of coffee beginning at 7 am. The ladies of Juice Paradise prepare fresh daily a host of meat, cheese or fruit pastries, empanadas, tamales and croquettes for the perfect accompaniment to the perfect cup of Café Con Leche.

Juice Paradise Cuban Café is open Monday through Saturday from 7 am to 4 pm. Located at 2603 Overseas Highway in Marathon, this place is certainly holding true to their slogan: “Try our flavor, be back later!” (305) 735-4051


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