In Old Havana, near the Cathedral of The Virgin Mary at 207 Empedrado Street, a certain Angel Martinez opened a little shop 'La Casa Martinez' in 1942.
First the shop offered some products to customers, but when next to the shop the printing house of Felito Ayón appeared, something changed.
Businessmen from all over Havana visited the printshop and often used a phone located at Martinez'. It was a great idea to place a telephone near the printing house where it was busy all day long. Visitors dropped on by Martinez' shop, bought something and it contributed to his success. Martinez moved further and put a bar counter and a few tables and very soon waiting visitors found a cozy place to discuss important issues, to execute contracts, to sign documents, to take a short rest and to have a glass of rum. Even Angel Martinez didn't expect his hospitable place would turn into such a popular hangout. The busy place attracted known writers.
The national poet of Cuba Nicolás Guillén and the famous writer Alejo Carpentier were among the first visitors of 'La Casa Martinez'. Besides crispy rum or cooling cocktails guests asked for hot meals cooked by his wife Armenia for the shop staff. The menu consisted mainly of black string beans, white rice, pork and fried vegetables. Soon 'La Casa Martinez' became a traditional meeting place for progressive thinking people, who gathered there from all over Latin America.
When men discussed what place to go for a drink to, they often selected the bar in the middle, 'la bodeguita del medio' in Spanish. So, Martinez replaced a signboard of his bar in 1950 and now 'La Bodeguita del Medio' is the official name of the bar. All guests and friends call it just 'Bodeguita'.