Alberto Elias: A man of humility, sacrifice, passion, compassion


Humility, sacrifice, passion and compassion, intelligence and hard work are all words that come to mind when writing about Alberto Elias.

Born in Matanzas, Cuba, Elias immigrated with his family here when he was just 5 years old attending Riverside E l e m e n t a r y, Miami Private, and then graduating from Miami High in 1978.

His family has been in the food business for 45 years. In fact, his father and uncle opened one of the first Latin markets in Miami and 15 years later opened a restaurant across the street from the market and yet another at 71st Avenue and Flagler Street. Since that time it has grown with the purchase from Luis Galindo 22 years ago of Latin American Cafeteria on Red Road and SW Eighth Street that was run by his brother while Alberto handled the market.

With the passing of his brother 11 years ago, the family continued to work as a unit with Alberto taking on an increased leadership role. It is obvious when talking to him that his wife Jael, daughters Melissa and Natalie, and sister-in-law Ella Elias are most beloved part of their family business.

Despite now running two restaurants, one on Red and another on 107th Ave. as well as their new Latin American Bakery and Café on Red Road, next to the restaurant, Alberto manages to devote time to his family and a church ministry that helps so many.

His volunteer work is something one finds out about through friends and by accident. He refuses to talk about his community outreach activities but prefers to talk of his beautiful family and his many blessings.

Ask Alberto Elias about the transformation of the old gas station on the corner of Red Road and SW Eighth Street and he can talk at length but change the subject to volunteer hands-on activities and he defers changing the subject. Alberto is a man who gives his time, talent and even money to numerous charitable causes, asking that no recognition be given — the sign of a truly generous spirit.

His work ethic and amazing business acumen combined with the efforts of his beautiful family may be evidenced in the new Latin American Bakery and Café that always is packed with people. Cooking with healthier food products such as whole wheat flour make many of his bakery items a great way to enjoy treats without the associated guilt of eating too many calories. Folks love the atmosphere that reflects the family’s personality and a great wine selection makes it a great place to stop on the way home for a special treat or two.

So it is, Alberto Elias is a rare breed of man who tenaciously ducks the limelight, gives generously without reward, loves his family and friends, and whose photo you will rarely see in the paper except by chance.

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A graduate of the University of Florida with a major in Spanish, Burns has an extensive background in advertising, marketing and reciprocal trade, travel as well as non profit consulting and management. Burns' volunteer activities led her to become a columnist writing Gloria’s Gab, a column that focuses on the non-profit activity. Burns was Executive Director of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee for 6 years and then served as the first Executive Director of Coral Gables Community Foundation for 14 years after which she helped the emerging Community Foundation of Pinecrest. Active in many non profits, she received the 2011 Florida Federation of Women’s Club Volunteer of the Year for the District 11 and the Rotarian of the Year Award. Among her list of current responsibilities, Burns co-chairs two annual student recognition breakfasts for the Coral Gables Friends of Education, co chairs the Doral Business Council Forum and is a DBC Ambassador, is Parliamentarian and serves on the board of the GFWC Coral Gables Woman’s Club and is on the board of the Rotary Club of Coral Gables and sings in the choir of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. She can be reached at

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