A new takeout restaurant serving Cuban cuisine is slated to occupy the Harlem Avenue storefront Wing Wah called home for decades before the Chinese takeout mainstay closed in 2019.
Lucio Ambrocio, one of five partners involved in the venture, told the Landmark he hoped Cubanito Express would open its doors before the end of 2021 or in January at the latest at 3222 Harlem Ave., once interior renovations are complete.
Ambrocio said his partners were his brothers Vicente, Rafael and Cesar along with the company’s chef, Marco Estrada-Oropesa, whom the Ambrocios consider to be another brother.
In October, Vicente Ambrocio submitted a business license application for the restaurant, and in November, he applied for a building permit to remodel the space. A contract for that work indicates they will spend about $3,100 to install a new three-compartment sink, hand wash sink, vegetable sink and a new floor drain.
A brief description of Cubanito Express, which appears to be targeting the commuter crowd, on the business license application states it will be open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sundays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cubanito Express will serve breakfast sandwiches, salads and coffee, and it will operate as a takeout restaurant like its longtime predecessor. Lucio Ambrocio told the Landmark that the sandwiches would be similar to those served at other Cuban spots in Chicago, like Cafecito, and their own “signature” sandwiches combining Cuban and Mexican flavors.
While Cubanito Express is the first restaurant venture for the Ambrocio brothers, they’re fully jumping into the business. In addition to the Riverside location currently being built out, they’re also planning to open a second Cubanito Express location in the 4700 block of South Pulaski Road in Chicago.
When it does open in Riverside, Cubanito Express will join the Middle Eastern restaurant Nada, which opened in 2019 at 3216 Harlem Ave., in that stretch of Harlem Avenue between Addison and Herrick roads.
Shortly after Wing Wah closed at 3222 Harlem Ave. in 2019, a restaurant called Taco Burger Express reportedly had plans for the space, but that eatery never materialized.