About Us

True to their restaurateur roots in Lima Peru, the Luna family always dreamed of having their own restaurant in their new home in New York City. They struggled and saved for years and finally in November 1996 they started construction and  June 1997 opened the first Sophie’s on Greenwich Street near the World Trade Center.

Their business philosophy was the idea that fresh, tasty food in good portions served in a local neighborhood atmosphere by friendly people would help them to realize the American Dream.

Sophie's was inspired by a Cuban restaurant the family visited years earlier. They had been selling Peruvian food from carts at the soccer fields in New York to earn the money to invest and thought Cuban food might be a better idea for the City. They researched everything about Cuba, its culture, and its food. Then hired Master Cuban Chef Eduardo Morgado to help them put it all together.

It was so busy that they opened a larger restaurant nearby. That was just as busy and by 2001 they had four Sophie's Cuban Cuisine® Restaurants open. 911 claimed the first two and a landlord bought out another one but they kept working hard and there are now seven Sophie's Cuban Cuisine® restaurants in Manhattan, one in Brooklyn, one under construction in Manhattan, and early planning is underway in the NY Metro area to find more in the next year or two.

 

  • Sofia Luna

    President

    The Beginnings - Sofia Luna

    Since I was a very little girl I always liked to be in the restaurant environment; the great aromas, the excitement of the crowds when we were rushed, the happy customers and all the activity made it a wonderful place for me to be. My family ran a food stand in Lima Peru and my sisters and I would help in the kitchen every chance we got.

    After we came to New York, my mother looked to supplement the household income by renting food stands at parks and festivals in the city. We were just in our teens when my mother, sisters, and I worked nights preparing food to sell at these food stands. We did very well in this venture and eventually saved enough money to open a real restaurant.

    In the fall of 1996 Sophie's Restaurant (now called Sophie's Cuban Cuisine) began construction and was born in June of 1997. I am proud to say that the concept has evolved from a small twenty seat restaurant located near the World Trade Center to the multi-unit operation we run now and that I have taken part in every step of this process.

    We work very hard to please our guests and have a tremendous appreciation for their loyalty to Sophie's. Every detail of our operation is important to us and if we ever fail to meet your expectations please bring it to our attention so we can do what is needed to make you happy."

    Personal

    When my parents immigrated to the United States from Peru in 1985 looking for better job opportunities for themselves and a brighter future for my siblings and me I had some doubts. I was only eleven years old at the time and their decision to uproot the family from everything we knew didn't seem to make sense. But now, having two children of my own – Johan and Sebastian - I understand the difficult choices they made. I now embrace this country as my own and I am very happy with how things turned out. I love my family; I love running Sophie's Cuban Cuisine; and, whenever I can make time, I have a passion for travel where I explore new things and recharge myself.  Next time you see me in one of our restaurants, please say hello - or if I'm busy, just wave; I'll be glad to see you.

  • Eduardo Morgado & Manuela Matos

    New St. Sophie’s

    The Beginnings

    The New Street Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine is home to Manuela Matos, the chain’s matriarch, and Eduardo Morgado the master Cuban Chef who created the delicious recipes.

    Manuela started the family business in 1967 in her native Peru after working in her mother’s restaurant throughout her chuldhood. She loved to cook and she loved to work and when an opportunity appeared for her to open a stand in a nearby market to serve typical Peruvian plates and fresh juices she jumped to it!

    She worked at the food stand for 17 years before coming to America in hopes of a brighter future for her four children: Julio, Patricia, Sofia, and Ines (Mila). The first few years in the USA, Manuela worked in the jewelry industry as a wax maker while cooking for special events as a side job to supplement her income.

    In the late 80’s she was running a full blown cooking business out of her three bedroom apartment cooking for special catered events and soccer games in the parks of New York. By the early 90’s the whole family was working diligently at home and at soccer fields selling home cooked Peruvian dishes.

    Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine

    Opening a restaurant was always in her plans and when the opportunity arose, Manuela borrowed money from family and friends to open Sophie’s Restaurant in downtown Manhattan. The family had decided that Cuban food might be more popular than Peruvian food in New York City. Enter Eduardo Morgado, a Master Cuban Chef - after trying out a few Cuban Chefs, Eduardo passed the test with flying colors. Eduardo was trained in the Hotel Riviera in Havana Cuba and in 1990 immigrated to the United States. Before joining Sophie’s Eduardo worked at La Teresita Restaurant in Tampa Bay, Florida and Mi Bandera and Azucar in New Jersey. Eduardo brought all the experience Manuela lacked in owning and operating a Cuban restaurant. Later, after realizing they were a good fit together Manuela and Eduardo became an item.

    Survival and Growth

    Two years after the first restaurant located on Greenwich St. at the World Trade Center became a huge success a second Sophie’s opened on Pearl Street. This was followed by the third location, New Street, a year later. In June 2001 the fourth Sophie’s opened at Maiden Lane.

    The events of 911 made a big impact on Eduardo and Manuela’s lives. 
    Manuela often refers to episodes in her life as pre - 911 and post - 911. Of those first four Sophie’s in the pre - 911 period, only New Street remains. Greenwich and Maiden Lane never recovered from the losses of 911 and the Pearl Street landlord bought out that lease for a new building project.

    While Manuela and the family continue to grow the business with seven Sophie's currently operating in Manhattan, one in Brooklyn, and another under construction in Manhattan, the company continues to grow and prosper.

    Guest Focus 

    Eduardo actively manages the location at New St. where he makes customers feel right at home with his unique Cuban style for delivering the best Cuban food you can find at a rapid pace in a lively and exciting Cuban-neighborhood restaurant environment.  He is the chief trainer for all chefs and cooks in the chain.

     

  • Mila Luna

    Lexington Ave. Sophie’s

    My family sold food from a stand in one of the many markets in Lima Peru where I was born.  All the food preparation was done from our kitchen at home and my siblings, cousins, and I would all help mom, my uncles and my grandma cook the typical traditional Peruvian plates they sold. 

    My family and I moved to New York in 1990 when I was 7 years old.  When we started the Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine restaurant, going to work was just plain fun because I got to work with my sisters and my cousin, just like when we were growing up!

    It was my mother’s dream to be a restaurant owner.  She always cooked and sold food every chance she got.  Once we had saved enough money to open a restaurant in New York my mom started trying to come up with a great concept. Mom noticed that there was a need for good, hearty Latin food in the financial district and she and my sister Sofia thought up the entire Sophie’s concept.

     I was always most comfortable in the kitchen, so I began culinary studies at the Art Institute of New York.  From there I continued my learning at the Cordon Bleu Restaurant School in Paris and became a certified chef. 

    We wanted to create a friendly environment and serve good, tasty food in a bright, clean establishment.  Due to the very warm welcome we got and the long lines that formed outside we added prompt and efficient service to our operating philosophy.  We have always been “Foodies”.  Most of my fondest memories include my family and food, so the quality of the food never changes; we make sure our meals and sandwiches are always fresh and delicious while keeping an affordable range of prices.

    We treat everyone with respect and are proud that most of our guests have been visiting us for years. 

     

  • Michael Mendoza

    68th St. Sophie’s

    I joined the Sophie’s team in May 2014. Even though I’m new to the restaurant industry I have more than a decade of operational and management experience. I have a Bachelors degree in Finance from St. Johns University with a minor in Business Management. 

    I also have a green belt certification in Six Sigma. Six Sigma is a set of techniques and tools for process improvement. This certification will provide me a solid foundation to help me enhance the quality of our current operational process by identifying /removing the causes of errors and maximizing efficiencies within the restaurant.

    Becoming a Sophie’s Manager

    I am Safe Serv trained and certified. This means I am current and have studied the latest FDA Food Code, food safety research and years of food sanitation training experience. The program has taught me the proper way to implement essential food safety practices and create a culture of food safety.

    I spent many grueling months at the Lexington Ave. Sophie’s training where I learned all aspects of the business and how important every satisfied guest is to our success.

    As manager of our 68th Street location I will ensure that the restaurant operates efficiently and profitably while maintaining our reputation and ethos. I will be responsible for our business performance as well as maintaining high standards of food, service, health, and safety. However my ultimate goal is to offer all of our guests a top quality culinary experience.

    I am looking forward to contributing in all aspects of the business with the intent to improve an already successful establishment. Please stop by and say hello, I and my staff will be delighted to see you!

    Oh and one minor detail I almost forgot to mention, “Sophie” just happens to be my lovely wife who I’ve been with for over 14 years. We have 2 beautiful children together who I can only hope will grow up to be as wonderful, independent and successful as her.

  • Jason Cestero

    Chambers St. Sophie’s

    The Beginnings

    My first name is George but I grew up being called Jason; so you will know me as Jason Cestero from the Bronx NY. Some people think that's the reason I'm cut out for this business – I like to make it easy for people. But it sure took me a while to find myself in a restaurant.

    In the beginning I trained in aviation maintenance technology and then went into my dad's business to become a plumber. Then I met the woman of my dreams; her name was Mila Luna. She said she worked in a restaurant.

    Learning The Business

    One day, when I was thinking of trying something else to do for a living, she told me that she was short-handed in the restaurant and asked if I would like to come in and help her. When I got there I was just so excited by the high energy environment and all of the fabulous food that is was love at first sight. I started by taking delivery orders on the phone. Nothing I had ever done was particularly fast – paced and suddenly I was in a whole new world. That amazed me and made it feel that this was where I should have been all along – somewhere I could be with a lot of people and make use of my natural high energy level.

    I also discovered that Mila was part of the founding family of Sophie's Cuban Cuisine and didn't just "work there" but was one of the creators of the concept.

    Now I had my first reason to never leave – I loved Sophie's, one of Mila's creations.

    Sophie's Cuban Cuisine

    Mila had been trained at the Cordon Bleu Restaurant School in Paris, France and became a certified chef. This explained her love of the kitchen and passion for the food. I gravitated toward the front of the house and the serving staff who were taking care of the customers. Before long we agreed that I should learn the business completely and I was sent to the training restaurant on Lexington Ave. where I learned everything I could about running a Sophie's correctly. I realized that this business is a test and it uses all of my skills and talents. What could be more fulfilling than that?

    Happily Ever After

    Along the way Mila and I fell in love and got married (another reason to never leave Sophie's). Now we have a baby (George) and Mila's doing management work in between caring for our son and giving me advice while I manage the Sophie's Cuban Cuisine restaurant on Chambers Street … and I am having the time of my life!

    My goal is to have every guest thoroughly enjoy their experience and to build this business to its optimum potential.

    I hope to see you there and if there is anything I can do to make your experience better just ask for me and I'll get on it as fast as I can.

  • Patricia Luna

    23rd St. Sophie’s

    Opening a Sophie’s

    In 2008 we opened the 23rd St. Sophie’s to an overwhelmingly warm welcome from our guests, just as we have in the other Sophie’s. This is the second Sophie’s franchised restaurant. While I had worked with my family in the business for many years, my husband Tom and I decided that we really wanted a Sophie’s for our own.

    An Irresistible Pull

    I started preparing and selling food from a very young age in my grandmother’s food stand in Lima Peru. In my adult years I studied education at Long Island University but the pull of the restaurant life made me understand that serving great food to hungry, happy guests was more fulfilling for me than I had realized. We even see guests coming in from time to time who visited us in the original Sophie’s years ago; on those occasions it’s just like a family reunion.

    My husband Tom is a pharmacist and has operated his own pharmacy in New Jersey since 2003. He likes to join our kitchen staff on the weekends whenever he's available. We have a daughter Ashley and a younger son Julian. Ashley (now in college) loves to come to the restaurant during the summer and make Batidos and help with Empanadas and anything else she can learn; she is becoming quite proficient at most restaurant tasks. It seems like the whole family was destined to be restaurateurs.

    Guest Service

    We make all our meals and sandwiches from scratch and make sure that all our food is served quickly to ensure its freshness.

    Please stop by and say hello; I’ll be happy to meet you and I’ll be sure to provide you with the best lunch experience you can have.

  • Tom Chamberlain & Alvin Lopez

    Brooklyn, Smith St.; Midtown Manhattan,45th Street; Downtown Manhattan, Fulton Street

    FRANCHISEES -  PARTNERS IN THREE SOPHIE'S

    Tom Chamberlain has over 25 years of hospitality experience as a hotel general manager in New York City.

    • University of New Haven
    • Cornell Restaurant School
    • Harvard Business School

    Alvin Lopez is Tom’s business partner with over 20 years in the hospitality field most recently as the General Manager at the Shelburne Murray Hill Hotel.

    • Advanced bi-lingual skills
    • Depth of experience
    • Entrepreneurial
    • Master of Guest Services

    THE HISTORY OF THE PARTNERSHIP

    They met decades ago as hotel managers working for the same company and became best friends and business partners

    Years ago Alvin's mom used to work at a neighborhood Cuban/Latino restaurant named La Rosita on the West Side. Tom and Alvin went so often that they knew they would be in the business themselves someday, if only for the food!

    Their combined talents will make their restaurants a great success and build more Sophie's restaurants.

    OUR OPERATING PHILOSOPHY

    With backgrounds steeped in a passion for customer service you can expect to see one or the other of the partners front and center attending to your every need and watching carefully over the food preparation.

    Tom says: "I like to be treated with dignity and respect at all times and that's the way I like to treat my guests. Everyone I hire to join our team must adhere to these basic principles."
    Alvin says simply: "I think there is something to be said about being able to speak to and deal with the business owner directly; if you have any feedback for me I'll always be available to listen to your concerns or suggestions."

    Please come in and introduce yourself to Tom or Alvin; they will remember you when you return.

    SERVICE STANDARDS

    You should be welcomed when you arrive by one of the partners or a staff member and thanked for your patronage when you leave; this helps reinforce the sense of a small informal restaurant versus your typical diner or quick service restaurant. We truly provide personal service; every customer concern is handled personally and expeditiously.

    Our food is prepared fresh every day under careful supervision while our service is quick, friendly and responsive. You are always assured the freshest, tastiest, and most wholesome food.

    CATERING

    We do catering, call directly to personalize your menu. We want you to be the hero of your office or place of work.

    DELIVERY

    Our delivery area is within a fast ride for our bicycle delivery staff. We will quickly learn the fastest route to your office and provide reliable delivery while our hot foods are still hot. Click on the "Order Online" button and we'll be there before you know it.

    EAT IN

    While we are very busy at lunch time we recognize that most of our guests are on a tight lunch break schedule. We make every effort to keep the tables turning over and to keep the take - out line moving quickly. Even if we look very crowded please come on in; we'll get you a table in no time, our goal is 5 minutes or less almost every time.

    EXTRAS

    Make sure you leave us your business card (email address) so you can be eligible for contests, prizes, specials, or other promotions that we will run once in a while. We'll let you know what's happening at Sophie's. You can also simply click on the Sophie'seClub button and you will get our monthly newsletter and a surprise, members only, coupon once in a while.