PICTURED: Chef Andres Fernandez at the Copa Cubana in Ventura Harbor. Picture submitted
by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer
Couple of restaurateurs have as much on their plate as Andres Fernandez.
The owner and chef of both of those 805 Bar and Grilled Cheese and the Copa Cubana following door retains fast paced functioning two unique menus — just one popular for its warm, melty, decadent sandwiches the other devoted to genuine Cuban cuisine — out of the very same kitchen area at Ventura Harbor. He also operates nearby Ventura Harbor Comedy Club and, of late, has been splitting his time in between his dwelling in Ventura and Havana to function on a film undertaking.
“I’m frequently functioning,” Fernandez claims — and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Humorous Business enterprise
Fernandez enjoys his West Coastline life style — he’s been in California due to the fact 1994 — but is a very pleased native of New York City. He grew up in Brooklyn, wherever his Cuban-born father owned a bakery. The spouse and children lived in an apartment higher than it.
“I was always lifted about it,” Fernandez suggests of the food items industry. “I worked in a donut store, places to eat, bartended . . .”
But in his 20s, he learned a different love: comedy. Following producing a identify for himself accomplishing standup on the East Coast, he started out getting nationwide consideration and touring. Just one of his significant venues was the Tropicana in Las Vegas. He also performed with Drew Carey, and entertained U.S. troops in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq.
He showed up in Southern California frequently, also, both equally at the comedy golf equipment and on movie sets.
“I used to arrive listed here each and every year for pilot year and auditions,” Fernandez clarifies.
In 1995 he landed a starring role in a UPN/Paramount sitcom known as An American Relatives. The present didn’t make it earlier the first period, but his standup career was booming. Fernandez ultimately moved to Santa Clarita in 2000, and satisfied Randy Lubas although accomplishing at J.R.’s Comedy Club.
About this time he also was receiving acquainted with Ventura County golf equipment, like Hornblower’s at Ventura Harbor, in which Fernandez commonly performed right before it closed in 2006. (It would later become Brophy Bros.) Yet another room in the waterside locale turned a comedy club, which handed by means of a couple diverse hands right before staying taken around by Fernandez and Lubas in 2007.
“A good deal of good advancement,” Fernandez remembers about those early times of the Ventura Harbor Comedy Club. “We acquired in proper just before the recession in 2008. We experienced 170 seats and expanded into a inexperienced room and a sound area. In our first six a long time, we did a lot of increasing.”
With Fernandez controlling the club and Lubas handling the paperwork and talent booking, VHCC generally had a thing likely on. Drag, burlesque, dueling pianos, magic reveals, the Ventura Comedy Competition and, of class, headliners from throughout the U.S. kept audiences in stitches. The place was also the house of the Ventura Improv Organization for a time, and hosted the regular monthly Artist Spotlight Sequence by Focus on the Masters for 3 several years.
He’s been operating the present solo due to the fact Lubas retired at the stop of 2019, but he takes pleasure in the basis the two of them built together.
“Randy and I did a great deal of do the job,” Fernandez states. “We had been total opposites and we complemented every single other . . . We were the two completely committed . . . I’m happy of the operate we have finished.”
Melts and Mojitos
Fernandez’s enjoy of food and the restaurant marketplace was not diminished by the accomplishment and recognition of his comedy club. He owned Savory Cafe and Bakery in Downtown Ventura for 3 a long time and in 2008 opened a waterside cafe at the harbor called Andres Wine and Tapas Bar.
Not thinking of himself a sommelier, however, he resolved to tweak the principle. In 2012 he sold the bakery, obtained a full liquor license, and started giving grilled cheese alongside cheese plates. As a result was 805 Bar and Grilled Cheese (“not a bar and grill — a bar and grilled cheese!”) born.
“From the get-go, it was a hit,” Fernandez states.
Maru Sushi was suitable upcoming door and shared the patio with 805 Bar. Chef Andres recognized that “if I take about the sushi cafe, I could have the full patio.” He did just that, and produced 1 of the county’s initially Cuban eating places with the Copa Cubana. He experienced one more strike on his arms, helped in no little part by a large outdoor dining location with a commanding see of the harbor.
Why would a person pick to function two separate dining establishments concurrently?
“I fancy myself an artist additional than an entrepreneur,” Fernandez claims by way of explanation. “I really don’t do this just for the cash. The strategy of making two various dining establishments with a single kitchen appeals to me.”
His technique is to use a great deal of the identical components, geared up in another way (mint, for illustration, goes into equally mojitos and a salad dressing). And he is watchful to continue to keep both menus manageable: just 10 sandwiches and 10 entrees, respectively. Bread heels leftover from 805 Bar sandwiches get turned into bread crumbs, croutons and other goods applied at the Copa.
“It’s a really effective kitchen area,” Fernandez confirms. “We have really small waste. I actually think it’s the wave of the long term for places to eat.”
In the course of the pandemic lull, Fernandez embarked on yet one more challenge: Finding and celebrating his Cuban roots, impressed in part by CNN’s foods and travel exhibit Stanley Tucci: Seeking for Italy. He spends a single 7 days out of every single month in Cuba, recording his ordeals with the assistance of just one cousin which is a cameraman, another that’s a chauffeur and a 3rd that owns an Airbnb in Havana. His first excursion was in February 2022.
When he’s in Cuba, he doesn’t just invest time with loved ones. He visits the exact same bars, dining establishments and grocery suppliers, having to know the individuals and local community thirty day period after month. He also shares bits of background and culture, talking about the community artwork, tunes and architecture. And, of system, the cuisine, observing the exposure as contributing to his evolution as a chef.
“In Cuba, they contact me Cubanisando, which implies ‘becoming Cuban,’” he states. “When I go there, I’m Cuban.”
“I want the clearly show to be about America, far too,” Fernandez continues. “I want my nation and my father’s place to be allies. I consider we devote far too much time combating and locating the variances as an alternative of the similarities.”
Fernandez has bee posting his video clips on TikTok and Instagram, but he’s at this time in talks with a few distinctive producers who are intrigued in potentially generating a television series. For a guy who initially moved to the West Coastline to shoot a sitcom pilot, it’s an exciting way of coming total circle.
“I just go”
For most men and women, a job in comedy or food items or movie would be satisfying (and demanding) ample. But not for Andres Fernandez, who enjoys absolutely nothing additional than to soar feet first into a new venture.
“I just go,” says the chef, comedian, entrepreneur, Cubanophile and modern TikToker. “I’m not a procrastinator. I’m addicted to the newness of an notion. Which is just my M.O.”
He’ll have lots of “new” to consider on this summer. Fernandez has supplied up the place previously occupied by the VHCC to move all comedy reveals to the Copa Cubana. He’s also continuing to host reside new music acts.
“Doing the demonstrates downstairs definitely feels superior. It’s like a breath of fresh air and a brand new start.”
And for somebody who put in most of his existence in nightclubs — as a performer, server, bartender, manager or owner — the shift feels organic and natural.
“I’ve just constantly loved the service market and night time golf equipment,” Fernandez claims. “A spot with jazz and blues and comedy and Latin music and dancing . . . you go to this club and you’ve got every little thing!”
“Everything” is a excellent way to describe the existence of Chef Andres Fernandez. Getting it all may not be simple, but he definitely helps make it look appetizing.
805 Bar and Grilled Cheese, Copa Cubana and Ventura Harbor Comedy Club, 1575 Spinnaker Dr., Ventura Harbor, 805-642-9463, @the805copaclub.
Follow Andres “Andy” Fernandez on TikTok and Instagram @andresfernandez.