Entrepreneurs Emerge As Cuba Loosens Control–LISTEN—
Since Cuba’s communist government loosened its grip on the economy, thousands of small private businesses have sprung up.
It’s a new frontier for budding capitalists, but competition is fierce and advertising is still tightly restricted.
Snack bars and food stalls are now all over Havana, but there aren’t many as distinctive as Tio Tito, or Uncle Tito. The first thing you notice is the uniformed employees, scrambling to serve up Hawaiian pizzas and fruit drinks as music videos play on a monitor behind the counter.
The napkins and the to-go containers carry the Tio Tito company logo, and there’s even a slickwebsite, which is hosted abroad. The red-and-gold color scheme is no coincidence either, says proprietor and would-be Cuban fast-food king Ivan Garcia. If those colors can work for McDonald’s, he says, they just might work for him.
“Those are the colors that stimulate the appetite,” Garcia says. “I didn’t make that up, it’s what the research shows.”
Garcia’s business is one of only two start-up food stands to make it in his Havana neighborhood. Six others have already gone under since last fall, when President Raul Castro let more Cubans go into business for themselves.