Angel Martinez, better known he says, as "Smokey," is the general manager and main chef at the new Latin Bistro at 1251 Taylor Lane in Lehigh Acres.
While his new restaurant's name may suggest Latin food only, Smokey says diners come in for both Latin and American foods. The Latin Bistro is located on the second floor, but Smokey wants everyone to know that it is easy to get to his restaurant by taking the elevator.
"Even though we have steps to the second floor of the building, nobody who doesn't want to walk them has to, since the elevator is so handy. It's to the side of the restaurant next to the church.
"Once you're on the elevator and the doors open on the second level, you're only a few steps from the restaurant.The restaurant site is the former Bistro Rudy and since everyone in Lehigh is familiar with the name 'Bistro,' we just added the name Latin and people should know where to find us. The best way is just turn into the Village at Lehigh entrance off Taylor Lane. We have plenty of parking," Angel said.
"We serve the best Cuban food around and we offer a great menu of American meals, too, such as steaks, beef, pork and more."
Working with Smokey as main chef are two other cooks in the kitchen and three waitresses and all employees are from Lehigh Acres and they are bilingual.
"We want to hire local folks; in fact Lehigh Acres applicants get picked first above all others if they are qualified," he said. "I want to be part of Lehigh and its growth."
Angel says the Bistro is a great place to eat on a Saturday night or any other night of the week and if a party of four come to dine, he offers a complimentary bottle of wine, and the diners may walk out with a certificate for their next dinner with a half price off.
"Our prices are absolutely affordable with some appetizers at 99 cents and others at $4.99 and above. We offer great sandwiches, cicadas, salads and great-tasting soups including our famous lobster bisque and seafood chowder.
"We've got chicken dishes of all types and the prices start at $9.99 with Chicken Milanese being only $12.99," Smokey said." One thing about coming to our bistro is the fact that our food is freshly cooked. We don't cook ahead like the other restaurants do.
"So if a couple or a party of several are coming, they may want to call and tell us what type of food they may want so we can start in the kitchen,"?Smokey said. "Otherwise, the wait is short."
Diners can call for reservations or just to let the chef know what type of meal one may be considering by calling the Bistro at 239-369-4444. Smokey even said he is glad to give out his cell number for people to call to talk about the menu and/or catering. His cell is 786-419-9958.
There are two large dining rooms inside and a large outside patio dining area with a new large bar; which is a first for Lehigh.
One of the dining rooms is also referred to as the banquet room and it can seat a large crowd.
"It's available for all types of occasions, wedding receptions, anniversary parties, birthday parties, special events, business gatherings and more," Smokey said.
When you enter the main lobby of the restaurant, there is lots of room, unlike before. Smokey says he has redecorated the bistro for enjoyable and comfortable dining.
And there is entertainment provided many nights and he is considering adding country music to the usual Latin and American favorites.
The banquet room can comfortably seat up to 120 people.
Dancing is available on Saturday outside on large patio dining area. "Well always have a live DJ and different types of entertainment.
Smokey said while is general manager and main chef, the restaurant is owned by Ivan Hernandez, who owns an eatery off Buckingham Rd.
Smokey is a graduate of Johnson and Wales College in North Miami, a well-known school, if not the best in culinary arts.
Laughing, he said that if someone mentions "Smokey," there's going to be a crowd, because he has performed all over Southwest Florida as a DJ.
"We're really proud of our new restaurant. Lehigh needed a very nice restaurant so locals can bring their friends to and enjoy a freshly prepared meal.
Everyone should also ask us about our daily lunch specials that are just $5.99 from Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. That's cheaper than fast food at wither of the local burger places.
The inside is newly painted and decorated and Smoke noted that to use their banquet room, there is no additional charge. Just call 239-834-1026 for information, he said.