Honoring its reputation as a cultural institution and historical landmark, the legendary Cuban restaurant Versailles is celebrating its 50th anniversary, opening its massive public archive that celebrates Cuban heritage and Miami History.

Revolving around the simple question of "What's Your Versailles Story," the Cuban restaurant managed by The Valls Group teams up with the HistoryMiami Museum in inviting the local community and patrons of Versailles to submit their personal stories and materials that will build the public archive of memories. The items will be related to the Versailles as a restaurant and the entire Cuban exile experience as a whole.

Exterior of Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana, Miami, Florida.
(Photo : Bobak Ha'Eri via Wikimedia Commons)

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A Time to Celebrate the Cuban Heritage and Struggle

The partnership between the gastronomic institution and HistoryMiami is timely, especially now that communities continue to fight and work towards legitimizing the Cuban voice amid protests.

The protests are conducted against the communist regime of the island of Cuba, and subsequent solidarity of the Cuban people and the rest of the Latin populations, as evidenced by the Versailles and in other parts of the world.

"This important benchmark for the restaurant comes at a crucial time for the Cuban people, and we are proud to continue what we do in celebrating our culture and our patrons in this meaningful way," said Valls Group President Felipe Valls Jr.

The official celebration of the Versailles' 50th anniversary will be on November 10. It will be marked by a public event whose details will be arriving sometime later. Independent curators will select the submission for the public archive. 

Additionally, a project with EXILE Books will enlist local artists to create original artworks about the Versailles and the HistoryMiami Museum archive.

"It is a great honor to bring Versailles and our local institution, HistoryMiami Museum, together. Aside from gastronomical significance, the restaurant has always served as a place for cultural exchange, not only for the Cuban diaspora but for the international city of Miami and all of its visitors," explains Alex Valls, currently leading the initiative for The Group. 

He adds that opening the Versailles' doors to the HistoryMiami Museum equates to giving authorship of their own experiences to the community, creating a legitimate and public platform.

Founded by Felipe Valls himself in 1971, The Valls Group is a family-owned business tracing its roots in its Cuban-American heritage.

It has grown into a consumer goods company with control over some of the largest chains in South Florida - La Carreta, Casa Juancho, CASACUBA, and of course, Versailles. Over its proud history, soon to meet its 50th anniversary, the restaurant has become the gathering place for the Cuban-American exile community.

How to Submit Your Versailles Story

The restaurant started accepting entries last August 4 and will run until November 2021. Versailles is accepting materials for its 50th anniversary through the MiamiHistory Museum's portal, both for Story Submissions and Potential Donations.

Submissions are in the form of written stories, photos, videos, or objects. All will be reviewed by Museum staff first and, once accepted, will belong to the Museum to be used at any time for research and educational purposes. Also, accepted entries might be shared with the rest of the community through the museum's platforms and initiatives.

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