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Miami Versailles restaurant and the entrepreneurial spirit

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Versailles Restaurant celebrated its 40th anniversary with a big bash. Gov. Rick Scott, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, county and city commissioners, a former congressman, public officials and celebrities attended the VIP event July 12 hosted by Felipe Valls, Sr., founder of the world-renowned restaurant. So many prominent leaders paid tribute to this Cuban-American patriarch and his family because Versailles is a symbol of Cuban-American culture, a tourism and political destination and living proof of what hard work, vision and sheer guts can generate in a free society.

The Valls empire is emblematic of the remarkable economic success of Cubans in the United States — what some have called “the Great Cuban Miracle.” Entrepreneurs must have the right motives, preparation, and a certain attitude and propensity to accept risk. The majority of the first wave of Cuban exiles came with little, if any, money, but they had valuable assets: an entrepreneurial spirit, education, organizational skills and an unshakable belief in themselves and what they could achieve as individuals in a free-enterprise system. As Guarioné Díaz points out in The Cuban-American Experience, businesses opened by Cuban Americans between 1972 and 1982 had exponential growth — from 5,000 to 30,000 — and they have continued to grow dramatically up to the present.