Morales brings together his culinary expertise, Puerto Rican heritage and desire to help budding culinary entrepreneurs with the new establishment, which serves Caribbean snacks and pastries. Morales offers positions and internships to culinary students to help cook, bake and run the business. The goal is to open three bakeries in Lorain County this year.
Morales is working with LCCC’s Career Services and the Culinary Program to outline the learning outcomes for the students that will result from the internships so that students can also earn college credit.
Last year, Morales approached LCCC about his concept. He was considering retirement, but had always wanted to open a coffee shop. He thought his dream was a good way to give back to the community while also making his dream a reality.
Morales first came to Lorain when he was 15 years old and graduated from Southview High School in 1979. He joined the Navy and then returned to Puerto Rico, where he put his
electronics degree to work at various banking institutions in the Caribbean and installed some of the first ATMs on the island.
After visiting Walt Disney World in 1988, Morales fell in love with the company and proceeded to secure a job in the finance department. It was during this time that Morales discovered his love for the culinary field.
“I wanted to do something else for a change,” he recalls. “Disney had an entry-level opening in the culinary department, and I worked from the bottom up. Then Disney sent me to Valencia Community College to become a chef.” Morales then served mainly at Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
When his daughter decided to go to college in Akron in 2001, Morales moved back to the area and joined Lorain National Bank.
Coquito’s menu ranges from sandwiches to sweets and everything in between. One of the signature sandwiches is the Tripleta — marinated and grilled cube steak, ham and pork stacked together inside a loaf of soft bread and topped with Swiss cheese, cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, mayonnaise, onions and potato sticks. Morales serves the sandwich cold or grilled.
The Media Noche, or midnight, sandwich is a cousin of the better-known Cuban sandwich, but uses a softer, sweeter bread. A Puerto Rican tradition, the Quesitos, features puff pastry triangles stuffed with cream cheese and fresh tropical fruit. The Tres Leches cake, or three-milk cake, is a Latin-American favorite featuring a sponge-like pastry soaked in condensed, evaporated goat milk and covered with a whipped cream.
“Clients will transport into the tropical ambiance while savoring the various unique, eccentric and delectable menu items,” Morales promises. “With our true focus on flavor, you can be assured of fresh, unique and a natural taste in every bite, every time.” ■