Google the distance between Francisco Lammoglia’s Cuban-style restaurant at 513 Francis St. and his original home in Cuba, and you’ll arrive at the number of miles that inspired the eatery’s namesake: 1785.
Lammoglia, a cardiologist in Kansas City, worked history into every facet of his restaurant when putting it together about two years ago.
The walls are lined with family photos from when he was child growing up in Cuba, and the building itself was originally a bank, vault and all, that contributed to the overall atmosphere that Lammoglia hoped to foster.
“You walk in and it’s like you’re walking into a different decade, which is what I wanted,” he says. “I wanted pre-revolution – the feeling one would get if you were to go into a restaurant in Havana or Guantanamo in the ’50s.”
Coupled with a dimly lit speakeasy downstairs, the space also would come to lend itself well to events and gatherings.
“The décor of the building is just beautiful,” Lammoglia says. “And these bamboo chairs that look like they belong in 1950s Cuba, they came up at an auction where a restaurant was going out of business. Things just started falling in place, so I said, ‘Well, yeah, it’s got to be.’”
The restaurant is run on the family recipes that he grew up on, which he gained an appreciation for while he was in med school.
“And they’ve evolved from when I first starting cooking them when I was in med school,” Lammoglia says. “I couldn’t afford to go out and eat as a med student, so I was eating frozen Tony’s pizzas, and (I thought), ‘Well, I’ve got to start cooking.”
He refined his skills before training the staff on the various cooking techniques that his mother and father also have streamlined over the years.
“Cuban food is not fancy food. It’s pork, it’s chicken, it’s seafood,” Lammoglia says. “Our food is much closer to Spanish cuisine than Mexican cuisine. When you go look at the dishes in Cuba, historically, there’s only a handful that are spicy hot.”
The dishes are citrus-marinated and the pork is slow-cooked. The staff also rotates the menu with the seasons. For example, they’ll be moving to more soups as cooler weather moves in.
Wine also is available, stashed in the vault that lies open in the back of the restaurant.
From the atmosphere to the food choices, 1785 combines both the owner’s respect for his heritage as well as his love for cooking traditional, Cuban cuisines.
“It’s fun, it’s relaxing and it’s not very precise, which is key, because you can vary things – some days you can make something that’s just a little bit different than another,” Lammoglia says.