Joel Exposito is the new owner of Fresko Fine Foods on Yates Street. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Cuban immigrant captures his dream of restaurant ownership in Victoria

Joel Exposito bought his own restaurant 14 years after moving to Canada

Fourteen years after emigrating from Cuba, Joel Exposito is finally the owner of his own restaurant.

Fresko Fine Foods at 642 Yates St. has been a mixed-food venue for several years under different ownership, serving pizza and Mediterranean dishes at a low price. Now, Exposito hopes he can bring more Cuban culinary options to the area.

“Cooking just came to me naturally. I like it, all parts of the kitchen – baking, cooking and serving people,” Exposito said. “Even as a kid, I was in a boarding school in Cuba and always trying to help in the kitchen there.”

ALSO READ: New family restaurant adds spice to Esquimalt

Exposito studied at a Cuban culinary arts school, and graduated to become a cook at a high-end hotel restaurant. That’s where he met a special Canadian woman.

“It’s a love story,” he said. “She brought me here.”

In 2005 Exposito moved to Victoria, where he quickly got a job as a cook at the Laurel Point Inn. He worked there for 10 years before staffing cuts cost him his job.

That’s when he heard a friend wanted to sell his restaurant.

“I didn’t have the money to buy the business, but I bought half with the plan to buy the whole business in the future,” he said.

As a partner he could learn about running a business, while working several other jobs to try to save up enough money.

ALSO READ: Longtime downtown Victoria restaurant gets renovicted

“I’ve been doing all kinds of jobs: renovations, construction, landscaping, paving,” he said. “I tried to make money to buy the business and come back to the kitchen.”

This April that dream became a reality. Exposito bought the other half of the business, and closed the restaurant for three months to do renovations before reopening at the end of July.

As clientele builds up, some of Fresko’s classic dishes, such as pizza, will remain on the menu, but some new additions are also ready to order. This includes some of Exposito’s favourites, like Venezuelan arepas or Cuban sandwiches packed full of roast pork, ham, salami, bologna, Swiss cheese and a pickle, served with a soup or salad for just $10.

“I like giving people something with a reasonable price,” he said. “Everything in Victoria is more than $10 or $15. I want to have something like this where people can have a meal.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

immigrantsrestaurant

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cold water swimming a morning ritual for Willows Beach crew

Group turned heads when they slow-walked into the Polar Plunge

South Vancouver Island B.C. Hydro Customers without power

Due to high winds nearly 3,900 B.C. Hydro customer will be out of power

Sidney signs off on 2020 budget with 1.79 per cent tax increase

Budget also includes additional funding for Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

Search begins for two missing scouts near Sooke

Crews headed to Jordan River area after receiving call just after 2 p.m.

Scaffolding falls due to strong winds at Millstream Village Sunday afternoon

No injuries or vehicles damaged, according to West Shore RCMP

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Massive early-morning blaze destroys Vancouver Island home

Firefighters from three departments called in to battle fire at unoccupied residence

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

VIDEO: Wounded Warrior Run leaves Port Hardy on eight-day trek down Vancouver island

The team’s fundraising goal this year is $250,000, which is double last year’s goal.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Most Read