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A favorite Caribbean restaurant in downtown Birmingham has now opened a second location off Highway 280. This new iteration of Miami Fusion Cafe was born out of a pandemic necessity to continue feeding its regular customer base, most of whom are working from home. But that’s not owner Luis Delgado’s only desire — he also wanted to give back to the community, which he did by feeding more than 4,500 frontline workers during the pandemic.

miami fusion cafe

Delgado has owned and operated Miami Fusion Cafe for more than 10 years, but his business model was rocked when the COVID-19 pandemic forced restaurants to shut down and most people to work from home. Located in the financial district of downtown Birmingham, Miami Fusion Cafe saw a drastic decline in customers. After his business was affected by the riots in June, he had to close to rebuild and then reopen during a difficult time.

“We were making $3,000 a day at the downtown location [pre-pandemic],” Delgado says. “And then suddenly we were making $200. Now, $400 in downtown is a good day.”

He decided to immediately pivot to operate a food truck in some of the suburban neighborhoods in Birmingham, especially the ones off Highway 280 where he knew most of his customer base lived. But he also wanted to give back. Each day, he made 80–90 meals to give out to frontline workers. The truck operated like a vending machine; the food was pre-made and kept under warmers. Frontline workers simply had to walk up, place their order, and were immediately handed their food.

“We became more of a servant this year and God continued to provide, no matter what we did,” Delgado says.

And that provision continued. When Delgado realized he still wasn’t hitting his numbers downtown but the truck was doing well, he decided to start looking for a second location. He found a spot at 5511 US-280 and secured a deal with the landlord. Twenty-four hours later, Delgado says he had $28,000 in a GoFundMe from customers who wanted to support his new venture.miami fusion cafe

At the new location, which opened late last year, lunch and dinner is served Tuesday-Saturday (the downtown location still serves lunch Monday-Friday). The expanded menu includes favorites such as mofongo (a Puerto Rican mashed plantain dish), lechon asado (slow-roasted pork), and Cuban sandwiches. You can’t leave without trying the famous Jesus Cake, a family recipe for tres leches cake. The restaurant also has happy hour with half-price cocktails. Mojitos come in any flavor from strawberry to mango to classic.

Delgado also has big plans to make his 280 location a thriving gathering spot when life returns to normal. He has plans for a separate lounge area off the main restaurant that will host live music. Upstairs on Miami Fusion’s rooftop, there will be comfortable seating, putt putt, cornhole, and fire pits. Delgado also plans to host events in the large parking lot; his first will be Spring Fest on April 17. He hopes, as he says, to “Bring some Miami flair to Birmingham.” And with his passion for food, serving, and the community, he’s already added more to the Birmingham community than most people realize.