Many Gwinnett County residents love Mojitos Bistro, a Cuban American bistro known for its traditional Cuban cuisine and live music ambiance. The owner of Mojitos Bistro, Luis Fernandez, is a testament to the American Dream. Having lived in the most diverse county in the south for more than 20 years, Luis believes, “On a macro level, the U.S. has a reputation that anyone can come and make their dreams happen. It’s the land of opportunity.”

Though he was born in Venezuela, Luis Fernandez credits a lot of his success to his upbringing in a “Cuban home.” His family fled Cuba during the Cuban Revolution and in the mid-80s. The Fernandez’s sought political asylum and moved to Miami, Florida to start a new life.

Luis learned English as he began middle school in the States. He studied and worked hard to build a strong foundation for his life in the U.S. In his late teens, Luis met the woman he would later marry, Yanin. The two spent their early twenties traveling the world on tour, as Yanin was a Spanish pop star signed with SONY and EMI. They spent time living in Germany and Mexico City but later decided to settle down after they had their first child.

Yanin put her music career on pause and they moved back to the U.S. Luis’s sister graduated from Georgia Tech and was living in Atlanta at the time. After some research, they learned about Gwinnett County’s incredible school system and decided it was a great place to raise their kids. With their determined, “figure it out” mentality and the goal of opening a Cuban restaurant in the States, they knew it would be more successful in Gwinnett than Miami – a city where they spent most of their early lives. “Miami is diverse, but it is primarily Hispanic and Latin American. Atlanta has all the diversity,” explained Luis.

In 2008, the couple devoted their savings to opening Mojitos Cuban American Bistro. Honoring their Cuban roots by serving Yanin’s mother’s recipes, the restaurant features live music, creating an authentic Cuban dining experience.

Mojitos became a staple in downtown Norcross. The intimate space was beloved by the community and when a larger space went on sale across the street, Luis jumped at the opportunity. In 2014, instead of moving Mojitos, Luis and his wife made a sidestep in their new space and opened The Crossing Steakhouse, which serves contemporary American cuisine. With the success of the two restaurants, another Mojitos location was opened four years later in Peachtree Corners. The new location, a much larger space, features a performance stage where Yanin serenades diners every Saturday night.

Much like the rest of the world, 2020 brought great challenges to the Fernandez’s businesses. They, again, poured their savings into keeping their doors open and employees paid. Fulfilling a steady stream of online orders, customers often added triple-digit tips on top of their orders to help them out. Luis recalls, “We could not have made it through COVID without the incredible support from our neighbors. People here care about their community, and invest their time, money, and effort to make it better.”

Beyond being restaurant owners and operators, Luis and his wife invest much of their time back into the community. Luis serves as a board member and volunteer for the Neighborhood Cooperative Ministries, an organization that provides food, financial assistance, and other services to the at-risk residents of Doraville, Norcross, Peachtree Corners, Tucker, and Greater Gwinnett. The Co-op is comprised of 23 various churches, businesses, civil and social organizations, and foundations. All the while, Yanin is currently running for the school board in Gwinnett County.

Luis embodies all the characteristics of a great businessman, leader, and public community servant. While providing a space for cultural experience for the residents of Gateway85 and Gwinnett County, Luis and his wife can give back and support their community in return.  As the most diverse county in the state and the 7th in the country, Gwinnett’s population is comprised of 25% immigrants. Luis and his wife are shining stars among them, living as a perfect personification of the “American Dream.”