When a recent Cuban immigrant named Jeraldo (his last name has been lost) opened the restaurant in 1965, it was only a small lunch counter occupying today's northernmost storefront, which is still the main entrance and lunch counter area. His simple Cuban cuisine quickly gained a loyal following, and fans would fill the room for his steaks, sandwiches, rice and beans, and other traditional fare. His nickname? Yayo, of course.
Yayo retired in the early 1980s and sold the restaurant to Lepido Ramirez, who tripled the restaurant's size, opened a parking lot across the street, and covered the rooms with murals of historical characters ranging from Pancho Villa to Napoleon. He also expanded the menu to incorporate more cuisine from his native Dominican Republic, and added the large neon sign that's still outside today.
|The bar room|
|Napoleon is at right|
|The main dining room|
With a dedication to quality, authentic, seriously filling Dominican cuisine as well as being a great place for families to gather, Garcia expects El Viejo Yayo to stick around for years to come.
"We've been managers for nine years here, and while it may not seem like a long time, it's incredible when someone who's baby shower we hosted comes in, and they're all grown up," he said. "I love it here."
El Viejo Yayo, 36 Fifth Avenue Brooklyn NY 11217. 718-622 -8922.