Serving Antigua since 1993, Cafe Condesa is a favorite with Antigua residents, out-of-towners and international tourists alike. Its colonial atmosphere, broad menu selection and friendly staff have made it a wonderful place to dine for over 25 years.
How did it all start? In 1992 the Casa del Conde opened as a bookstore and arte gallery. Upon seeing the back patios under construction, Ginger (one of the "condesas") was inspired to open up a restaurant. For years she had worked managing restaurants, hotel catering services and consulting in start-ups. Having decided to leave the restaurant business behind, she did a four year stint in Washington DC with Bread for the World where she served as Deputy Director of the organization that operates as a grassroots public policy advocate for poverty and hunger issues.
Las tres condesas
Upon arriving in Guatemala in 1986, Ginger saw that providing good jobs to individuals to allow them to sustain themselves and their families might prove as important as her four years working on the Hill. She worked for many years in the highlands with weavers, colaborating with cooperatives and establishing and running a clothing factory. Once she saw the back patios of La Casa del Conde, she was inspired to create a place that could combine her two loves: healthy, delicious food and alleviating poverty. Ginger called her longtime friend, Jane (another "condesa") who ran the successful bookstore in front and began the story of what might be possible in the back of the house. With the blink of an eye, she was back in the restaurant business again, but this time with the higher goal of rightful employment.
With four tables and four employees, Cafe Condesa opened on Palm Sunday in 1993. With the commitment to reinvest all the profits back into the business until it was successfully on its way, growth was fast. The original menu was small and grew as the kitchen space grew. All production was always in house. The service kitchen downstairs was for making things in the moment like eggs, pancakes, sandwiches, salads... and the bigger kitchen upstairs for baking breads, cakes, pies, making soups and sauces, roasting meats, and even making cheese.
The focus has always been on the quality of the food, using local (and organic when possible) ingredients. The butter, cream and daily milk delivery come from local dairies where the managers have met the cows (who are still milked by hand). They visit the many farms that grow the lettuce, spinach, greens, berries and vegetables. They have searched to find the best that Guatemala has to offer and always offer seasonal daily specials. "Farm – to – Table" is a 25 year old concept for Cafe Condesa.
Today Cafe Condesa and three Cafe Condesa Express employ over 60 full time staff. With seven days of service, two shifts a day, that’s a lot of work to cover. Turnover is minimal; about a quarter of our employees have been there over 15 years: half of them, over 10 years. They work under the concept that ultimately the restaurant belongs to all, that all “eat from the same pot” as the saying goes in Spanish ---comimos de la misma olla. Each and every person is appreciated individually and as crucial to the whole. Between the three managers, there is always a “manager on duty” to assure that everything is running smoothly.
Cafe Condesa continues to invest in its future with renovations to the building, updates to the equipment and ongoing staff training. They understand and appreciate that you, the client, make it all possible. Your telling others about Cafe Condesa is the nicest thing you can do to promote the restaurant, the Express and all the staff that make it happen. Make Cafe Condesa your home away from home in the Land of Eternal Spring.