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Havana Grill









What they do

Founded by Sandra Cardet, Havana Grill is an immigrant woman-led, family-owned restaurant that specializes in authentic Cuban cuisine and offers vegetarian and vegan options.

Havana Grill pays above minimum wage with tips included for both front- and back-of-house workers. In fact, Havana Grill gave raises to their staff in the midst of COVID-19 restrictions.

Without prior restaurant ownership experience herself before launching Havana Grill, Sandra hires her front-of-house staff based on personality rather than experience, thus creating a more inclusive hiring practice.

Throughout its years of operations, Havana Grill has hosted three interns from San Diego Metropolitan High School and hired three women who were formerly incarcerated. One of the latter has risen to become a manager.

Why we invested

Havana Grill is expanding to a second location at Westfield Mission Valley and needed capital to convert a former retail space into a vibrant restaurant and gathering spot. The need for timely capital was amplified by COVID-induced supply chain shortages driving up construction costs and extending project timelines.

It is worth noting that Sandra and her team positioned the first location to actually grow during the pandemic—thanks in part to quality ingredients, great flavors, and streamlined online ordering. Strong sales in both pickup and takeout orders later led to restarting dine-in services.

Havana Grill’s enduring success, however, is no doubt due to Sandra and her team’s exceptional determination during tough times for the hospitality industry.

With the expansion to a second location, Havana Grill plans to hire 50 additional people in quality jobs, up from the current 32 at their first location in the Clairemont area of San Diego.

This investment exemplifies the persistence and resilience of the entrepreneurs we support, and how we think about the power of finance as a force for good to expand economic opportunity for all.

Impact Segment

Creating quality jobs

Skills training & workforce development

Impact Vehicle

Advance Strategy

Dates of Investments

  1. December 2021
  2. February 2022
  3. July 2022

Impact Geography

San Diego County


Chef Sandra Cardet

Year Founded