Clasica Victoria (it translates to Classic Victory) is a casual dining jewel in Key Biscayne with French-Italian roots. It offers a customer-friendly, family environment to enjoy their artisan creations.
Everything at Clasica Victoria is homemade, and they strive to use the finest ingredients available. Their mission is to enhance the island’s gastronomic industry by educating their customers on eating comida sana (food that is healthy). Owner Victoria Galindez says her place is a haven for those que le guste comer bien (customers who enjoy eating good food). She sees this – offering consistent quality – as her mission.
Clasica Victoria is located at 638 Crandon Boulevard and can be reached at 786-803-8536. They are open seven days a week from 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m., closing at 7 on Sundays.
Name: Victoria Galindez
Question: Where were you born?
Answer: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Q: Where do you live?
A: Key Biscayne, together with my husband Juan Maqueda and our three kids, Felix, 17, Mora, 13, and Francisca, who is 9.
Q: How did you get your start in the industry?
A: I’m a fifth-generation business owner and restaurateur. My great grandfather owned a restaurant and a hat-making company. When our family was exiled in Uruguay, my grandmother along with my mother and her other kids started selling food from their house to make ends meet, and that turned into a business. When the family returned to Argentina, my mother opened a bakery-restaurant. Upon my graduation from the university, I went to work at Merrill Lynch. I did that for five years but realized, having grown up in the restaurant-bakery industry, that my passion was in this business. So, at 22 years old, I opened my first Clasica Victoria in Argentina. Eventually we opened five Clasica Victoria stores. The original store is still open.
Q: What is your “secret to success” as an owner?
A: I think my success is directly tied to the great family I have, a buscar la felicidad dia a dia (look for happiness daily). Really, there is no secret. It takes great effort to maintain and grow your business; the perseverance and the focus it takes.
Q: What’s your proudest moment in your career?
A: Really, I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish in my life, starting my own business at 22 years old. It gives me a great deal of satisfaction when customers come back and comment on how good their food was, or the service they receive. When Juan and I came to Key Biscayne, we did not know anybody, just one contact a friend back home gave us. Resources were limited, so we started to look for a job on the island. Then through that contact, word spread (at this point Victoria teared up remembering) and people would ask me if I was the same Victoria as the Victoria Clasica in Argentina. I told Juan that people know of me, we have to open a place here! Clasica Victoria Key Biscayne was born.
Q: Any funny or embarrassing stories you can share.
A: Oh, yes! We have a classic. We had an English-speaking customer come in and ask if we had Apple Pay as a method of payment. Our server understood apple pie and showed him what we offer and that you had to order them a day ahead. He got a big laugh and is now a regular and we still laugh about it.
Q: What do you love most about your career?
A: La libertad (the freedom). That will surprise people, as the restaurant business can be demanding, but I think it is OK to be a slave of your passion, and this is mine, what I chose.
Q: What is your dish favorite here at Clasica Victoria?
A: Sandwiches de miga, my favorite is avocado, tomatoes and egg. (Miga sandwiches are popular in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay; they are single, double or multiple layered and are made from a thin white or whole wheat bread without crust, i.e. the part of the bread called "miga,” or crumb). I also enjoy our sweets, especially our torta rosada, which was my mother’s creation and is one of our most popular items.
Q: What is your favorite junk or comfort food?
A: Junk food? A good bacon hamburger with fries! Comfort for me is avocado!
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: 100 percent family time.
Q: Your favorite part about working in Key Biscayne?
A: Vivir aqui es como un cuento (living here is like a fairytale). Everything is so close, the security, the family environment.
Q: What would people be surprised to know about you?
A: (Laughs) That I have a life! I am always here so they might not realize I like to go out, dance, have a drink, enjoy life!
Q: What is your advice for someone just starting in your profession?
A: If it is not your passion, don’t do it.