Replace the silence of Coleman Library with the commotion of flat screen TVs, food sizzling and Latin music playing. The food is being cooked in the kitchen, and all the tables between the restroom and the register are filled with hungry customers ready to eat.
While most college students plan late night rendezvous at popular clubs like 20/20, Baja’s Beach Club and Rokbar, the students plan the hours of operation and menu for their newly created, family-owned restaurant, the Latin Xpress Cafe.
The Cuban couple migrated from Miami, and has brought more business and attention to the Latin population in Tallahassee since the restaurant opened in January.
Valdes opened the Latin Xpress Café, located at 2121 West Pensacola Street, using a Trust Fund left by her late father.
“A lot of people think my mom’s the boss,” Valdes said. “I let them believe it because I don’t want that type of pressure.”
Valdes said the restaurant was originally supposed to be a Latin Grocery, but the building’s overall structure resembled a Café.
“He modeled the inside of the building himself,” Valdes said of her husband, Delreal.
“We have everything a Latin Café in Miami would have, except a walk-in window.”
Many students dine at the Latin Xpress Café during the school week and enjoy the restaurant’s proximity to FSU and TCC. The restaurant also does delivery.
The café also serves as the meeting place for a Latin sorority housed on FSU’s campus.
The Alpha Xi Chapter of Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha, Incorporada (Sisters of Sigma Iota Alpha, Inc.), has a monthly fundraiser every third Friday at the Latin Xpress Café from 6 – 10 p.m. Attendees include other FSU student organizations like Greeks, the Student Senate and the Ignite Political Party. The social is designed to fundraise for the sorority and make a profit for the growing restaurant.
“I was really surprised to find out she went to my school,” said Shanika Robb, treasurer for Sigma Iota Alpha, Inc. “I didn’t know they were that young at first. They’re pretty much the ones running everything, as far as the business interactions.”
A local Miami Latin radio station, El Zol 95.7, acknowledged the Latin Xpress Café after an FSU student who frequents the restaurant contacted her uncle, a DJ for the station, and requested a “shout out.”
Valdes said the experience has been exciting and overwhelming.
“I don’t have a lot of experience, but I know in the future this will be something very good,” Valdes said.