The path from driving a taxi in Havana, Cuba to opening a new business in Jasper began almost nine years ago for Ronaldo Diaz Rodriguez.
The Jasper resident and his nephew, Yon Alejo Acosta, just opened Coral Sea Fresh Fish & Seafood in the Southgate Shopping Center at 347 U.S. 231 last Wednesday.
The popularity of the new business’s offerings is apparent as they were serving hundreds of customers shrimp, squid, yellowtail, red snapper, swordfish, lobster tail, oysters and more from the Florida Keys by Sunday.
That popularity doesn’t surprise Rolando who became interested in the idea when a distributor in Miami mentioned something about bringing fresh seafood to the Midwest while Rolando was there buying seafood for himself. It was something Rolando had considered as a business idea when he first arrived in the area so he got a freezer and loaded it up with fish and brought it home.
It was all sold to his friends and family within two days and this solidified the idea as a viable business for the area.
In Cuba, Rolando had eaten fresh seafood daily. “Anytime my friends said there was fish available, I was there,” he laughed.
It was apparent his appreciation for seafood was shared locally so the opportunity to realize his economic dream was potentially in front of him.
It was a dream he had set out to realize in November of 2010 when he and five other people rowed from Cuba. It took them two days and two nights of rowing to get to the shores of Miami where they were seeking to emigrate. With Cuba’s bad economy there were limited opportunities.
Rolando wanted stability. He wanted a house for his family. So, he decided to leave the country of his birth to find better opportunities in the United States. He was granted entrance into the country under the Cuban Adjustment Act and moved up to Louisville where he began working.
He moved to Louisville soon after arriving but found that he wasn’t very satisfied with living and working there. When a friend told him about opportunities in Dubois County, he decided to check it out and about a year after landing on U.S. shores, he moved to Dubois County and began working at Farbest. Eventually, he ended up at Jasper Engines and Transmissions.
He and his family grew to love the area and sent an invitation to his extended family to head this way. Yon’s family had left Cuba and moved to Spain but decided to take Rolando up on his invitation and ended up coming to Jasper as well.
Yon was even able to attend Jasper High School his senior year where he played soccer on the Jasper Boys Soccer Team. Once he graduated, he also started working at Jasper Engines and Transmissions.
Yon was about to head off to the military when he ran into a hiccup that slowed the process of his signing up. Meanwhile, Rolando was pursuing his business idea and asked him to help out.
Yon took him up on the offer and now, his military aspirations are on hold as he helps his uncle with the burgeoning business.
The two men are dealing with opening the new business with some apprehension and excitement. They see it as an opportunity to bring something they both love to the area but it is tempered by having to work through the growing pains of launching a new endeavor.
On Wednesday, Rolando will make the 20-hour drive down to Miami to pick up a load of seafood to be ready for Friday when the Jasper Chamber of Commerce is hosting a ribbon-cutting and open house with the new business. The pair plan on having fresh fish delivered to the store on Fridays utilizing a shipping company in starting soon but for now, they’ll make the trip themselves to bring the area a great selection of fresh seafood.
The ribbon-cutting is at 4 p.m. on Friday, August 23 and there will be plenty of fresh seafood available for sale.
More information is available on their Facebook Page here.