Steve Pizarro is the Founder, General Manager and Executive Chef of Harrisonburg, Virginia’s CubanBurger restaurant and cocktail bar. Florida-born and Virginia-bred, Pizarro is a first generation Cuban-American with a deep passion for all things food and drink.
At the age of 20, he slightly exaggerated his age to obtain his first bartending position at the legendary D.C. watering hole, Nathan’s in Georgetown. Pizarro spent the next ten years helping to open and manage restaurant properties in D.C. and Miami, before leaving the business all together to help a friend start up a medical billing firm in Miami. This led him to twenty year career as a software project manager specializing in healthcare information systems.
Never fully quenching his desire to be restaurateur, Pizarro made his way back to Alexandria, VA in 2008 with aspirations of opening the Cuban restaurant he had always dreamed about. While there, he started to spend weekends at his family’s property in Shenandoah County to escape the hustle and bustle of Northern Virginia. After getting to know the folks at Cave Ridge Vineyard outside of Mount Jackson, Pizarro somehow convinced them to allow him to set up a small outdoor concession where he could sell food to the vineyards customers.
Having very little professional kitchen experience, Pizarro hit on the idea of recreating the Cuban style burgers called “fritas” he had grown up enjoying. That led to an opportunity to sublease 100 sq ft of kitchen space behind Wine On Water, a satellite tasting room for CRV located at 70 W Water St. in downtown Harrisonburg.
On March 6, 2012 he began his one man operation doing take-out and delivery. By the end of that year the opportunity to take over the entire 2200 sq ft of 68/70 W Water St was presented to him and he jumped on it. CubanBurger would open its doors to the public as a full scale restaurant in July of 2013. “It wasn’t easy opening a restaurant,” Pizarro added. But he managed to stay open and now the restaurant is experiencing surging popularity.
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