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A Piece of Home: How Mima’s Taste of Cuba has become special place for Cubs players

9 months agoAndy Martinez

Amid a global pandemic in 2020, active and aspiring major leaguers were still searching for a way to stay ready for a season they hoped would one day come.

For Miguel Amaya and Adbert Alzolay, it wasn’t easy.

Confined at home due to stay-at-home orders, it was difficult for the pair to stay ready — throwing or hitting wasn’t simple in that situation. Being in a foreign country, with no hometown to go back to be able to train, compounded the issue.

A family-like relationship saved the pair — and allowed them to continue to stay ready. It was a bond that was forged at a restaurant — Mima’s Taste of Cuba in Irving Park. Since 2016, Mima’s has been a home-away-from-home for Latino Cubs players — and its owner, Billy Alvarez and his family have been players’ family-away-from-home.

In 2020, Guillermo Alvarez, affectionally known as El Viejo — “the old man” — took it upon himself to reach out to Alzolay and Amaya, letting them know of a facility about a 45-minute drive away that the pair could train at.

The elder Alvarez would pick up the pair, drive them out to the facility, wait whilst they trained and then drive them back home.

“It’s really difficult to find that kind of help and it tells you what kind of heart he has as a person,” Alzolay said. “There were days that he skip or leave work early because ‘Oh, I have to find the boys and take them to train.’ That tells you a lot about a person.”

It’s the type of environment that’s been created at Mima’s Taste of Cuba. During a homestand, you’ll find Amaya, Alzolay or any of the other Cubs’ Latino players at the restaurant, enjoying a homey meal and catching up with their “big brother” in Billy Alvarez.

To learn more about Mima’s, Alvarez and Alzolay and Amaya, watch the video above and make sure to check out the full interview on the Marquee Sports Network App.

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