Rick Seidner runs Rick’s Restaurant in Palm Springs. It’s one of the only places in the Desert serving Cuban dishes. But, behind the happy times at this restaurant, Rick bears a painful legacy of his childhood in Havana, Cuba.
“Growing up, my dad always told us, ‘Someday, we’re going back to Cuba.’ Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. My dad always had a bitterness in his life because of how he was forced to make these choices.”
Seidner’s entire family left Cuba after Castro and the Communists took over their clothing business. He goes through his late father’s old suitcase, looking through mementos of a life they left behind.
“What I would say to Castro would be something to the effect of, ‘You give us a reason to come back. Don’t just say you can come back because most of us would want to have our properties back. Most of us would want the opportunity to start a business in Cuba,'” said Seidner.
While Cuba is not likely to hand over 1950s-era properties back to Cuban-exiles in America, lifting of restrictions allows a flood of American dollars to reach the Cuban people.
Christopher Baker is the author of more than a dozen Cuban travel books, and added, “It’s time for all Americans to be able to go to Cuba. Today’s news lifted restrictions for Cuban-Americans, but everybody deserves to go. It’s a fantastic place. Everything is so different, we need to be able to communicate with Cubans on a one to one level and be able to bring democracy to that island.”
For now, Rick Seidner plans on visiting Cuba someday soon. But, no matter the pull his homeland has on his heart, the Desert is his home now.