Pat Copeland | Sun
Sylvia Noguera and Alfonso Abreu offer food with
an international flair.
ANNA MARIA – Alfonso Abreu and Sylvia Noguera have spiced up the café at The Center of Anna Maria Island with an international flair featuring such delights as empanadas, chipas and yucca fries.
“We have a partnership with the Center to lease the space in the kitchen to operate our culinary operation and distribution center.” Abreu explained.
Abreu, originally from the Dominican Republic, grew up in the Bronx and developed a talent for music, but pursued a career in technology – from software to consulting and coaching to startups.
“My mom and dad were both great cooks, and I learned from them,” he said. “Through the years as I got better, I hosted parties, and people said I should open a restaurant, but I resisted.”
However, when he met Sylvia, that resistance melted. Sylvia, who hails from Argentina, grew up in a family of doctors, and said her childhood memories are of a house full of music, food, family and friends. She came to the U.S., specifically the Island and northwest Bradenton, eight years ago and eventually met Abreu.
“We started following our passion for food and people,” she said.
Evenings in The Center’s cafe
The couple took over evenings at the café in September and offer a local food experience for artisanal, gourmet, internationally inspired street food.
“Every culture has a sandwich, a dumpling, meat on a stick,” Abreu pointed out. “Our passion is to look across those cultures and figure out how to express all those interpretations of those foods in a creative and multicultural way.
“We want to tap into what you remember as comfort food. The empanada is a canvas for expressing international inspirations. There are a lot of subtleties in how these things are expressed.”
Abreu has created spices for the empanada fillings that pay homage to a cuisine or a country including Argentina, the West Indies, Spain, Mexico and the Middle East. In addition, he has created 17 sauces such as burnt orange barbecue and mango chutney to enhance the flavors of the empanadas.
Other offerings include Argentine style baked chipas, which are cassava based cheese breads, baked garlic Parmesan yucca ‘NoFries’ and sliders. There also are three bases – mint couscous, wild and brown rice pilaf and spiced turmeric quinoa – on which a protein can be added.
Vegetarian offerings include lettuce wraps with vegetable protein and jicama tacos. There also are gluten free and vegan options and a full line of fresh, frozen, vacuum-sealed products.
Eat in, pick up, delivery
Diners can eat in or pick up food Monday through Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. or have food delivered Monday through Saturday from 6 to 11 p.m. Catering is available, full online service will begin this weekend and in November, there will be free, downloadable iPhone and android apps.
Those who go to www.empacurious.com and click on Get in on the Buzz, will learn about new creations, promotions and events. The couple also is planning a guest chef pop up event in Sarasota and will offer food at Anna Maria Elementary School’s fourth-grade play on Nov. 15.
worth another look
I have written about reverse mortgages over the years, at least twice here in the Sun. My advice was that reverse mortgages were expensive for the borrower, but in the case where a retired person or couple had run out of assets, using the equity in their home through a reverse mortgage wasn’t the worst idea in the world.
I’m bringing the topic back one more time because some changes in federal guidelines have made the reverse mortgage a more attractive option for those who are over age 62, that own their home free and clear of another mortgage and who are concerned about the possibility of running low on retirement income during their lifetime
Space limitations don’t’ allow us to go into a full primer on reverse mortgages, but let’s hit some of the highlights.
• Fees are down: The up front mortgage insurance premium applied to all reverse mortgages was reduced from 2.5 percent of the loan amount to 0.5 percent by the Reverse Mortgage Stabilization Act of 2013, as long as the borrower doesn’t tap more than 60 percent of the available credit balance in the first year. Other fees have been standardized and are roughly in line with a traditional home mortgage, but often lenders will issue credits to offset some or all of these other expenses.
• Education: Borrowers are required to attend a consumer counseling session to make sure they understand the nature of the reverse mortgage. The cost of this session is $125
• Borrowing limit: The limit for reverse mortgage credit lines depends on the age of the youngest borrower, current interest rates and the lenders margin. Generally, you can access about half of the value of your principal resident, up to a current maximum value of $625,000.
• Payments: You don’t need to make payment on a reverse mortgage. The money you borrow and accrued interest must be repaid when you no longer live in the home. This can be through a move to another location, or if you pass away. The home will then be sold, the reverse mortgage paid off and any excess above that can be left to heirs.
In the past, advice was generally to take out the reverse mortgage as a last resort when it was obvious additional funds may be needed. Under current guidelines, that advice is outdated. Reverse mortgage lines of credit actually grow over time, giving the borrower the ability to borrow more. So, the current advice in most situations is to establish the line of credit in your mid-60s, when eligible, and instead of borrowing, just let the line of credit rest with a zero balance.
A line of credit for about $125,000 will grow to about $190,000 in 10 years, 290,000 in 20 years and over $440,000 in 30 years. Establishing, but not accessing the line of credit until later in retirement gives the retiree a lot of flexibility. The exact loan characteristics are influenced by the age(s) of the borrowers as well as the current level of interest rates.
In summary, for those who may find themselves real estate rich and liquid asset challenged, a reverse mortgage may be a good option.
Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing. Visit www.breitercapital.com.