Renowned Chocobar restaurant to open in Mott Haven

A new, savory restaurant, offering a splash of Caribbean flavors, art and tradition is set to hit the streets of Mott Haven in early summer 2020.

Chocobar Cortes, a bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturing company out of San Juan, Puerto Rico, is planning an expansion to the Bronx in the coming year.

The company has deep roots that originate in the Caribbean, where Don Pedro Cortes Forteza first produced his cacao merchandise in 1929 and exported those goods from his native Puerto Rico.

Puerto Ricans and Dominicans are no strangers to Chocobar’s products, which are extremely popular to this very day.

Chocobar Cortes restaurant in Old San Juan was opened in 2013 and has been a hit ever since. Chocobar Cortes was voted Best Restaurant in the Caribbean by USA Today in 2017.

Carlos Cortes, great grandson of Don Pedro, has now taken the title of general manager at Chocobar Cortes after attending NYU and spending his post-graduate years in New York.

After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017 and stunted the country’s economy, Cortes said to himself, “what can I do for my country?”

With the Chocobar Cortes’ San Juan location doing well despite the hurricaine’s aftermath, he saw an opportunity for expansion.

“Essentially, I started looking at neighborhoods with big Puerto Rican populations and started preparing the brand for global expansion,” Cortes said.

“We want to hire folks from the neighborhood,” Cortes said. “We want to enhance the community we’re becoming a part of.”

Cortes said chocolate is just one of the family’s passions. His father and CEO of Chocobar, Ignacio Cortes, is a prominent art collector.

With his passion for art, Ignacio established a non-profit organization called Fundacion Casa Cortes in 2012. The organization’s mission is “to educate and inspire with our passion for Caribbean art.”

The new Alexander Avenue restaurant will be similar to the original location with some added twists, he said. The space will be split in two, one side being a grab n’ go coffee shop open during the day and the other half being a full functioning restaurant and bar during the evening hours.

“We use our chocolate as the celebrated ingredient,” Cortes said. “We want to celebrate our Caribbean heritage through the colors, the arts, the traditions, the flavors, and the gastronomies (using locally-sourced foods) with our own twist on it.”

Chocobar Cortes would not be what it is today without their celebrated executive head chef, Ricardo De Obaldia who has created the wonderful, vibrant dishes offered at the restaurant.

Crowd-pleasing dishes include a chocolate grilled cheese sandwich that features a sharp cheddar-type cheese served along with chocolate; a croquette (fried breadcrumb roll filled with various ingredients) served with a chocolate dipping sauce; and the Chocoburger which is served with chocolate infused ketchup.

Cortes said the desserts are also original and fabulous.

“We hope to inspire the Bronx and New York with the taste of our chocolate, the richness of our culture,” Cortes said.

For more history, information, or to purchase Chocobar Cortes merchandise, visit the website at www.chocobarcortes.com

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