After years of petitions, the Internal Revenue Service announced Wednesday that it has finally recognized Versailles Restaurant, the iconic Little Havana cafeteria that serves as the spiritual center for Miami’s Cuban population, as a taxed-exempt place of worship. The restaurant will now be known as “La Iglesias de la Ventanita.”

Since its opening in 1971, Versailles has been the heart of Miami’s Cuban community and a place of holy refuge during crucial moments in Cuban-American history, including the Elian Gonzales incident and the Café Bustelo shortage of 1995, which claimed 6 lives. The decision to recognize the restaurant as a designated house of worship was instigated when an IRS official reviewed tape of the celebration outside of the restaurant following the death of Fidel Castro. “We saw an entire community come together at a central location to praise god,” said an IRS representative. “If that isn’t a church then I don’t know what is.”

The newly minted church will hold its first service on Monday, with a special benediction by Padre Alberto Cutié and entertainment from an elderly Celia Cruz impersonator who will just scream “Azucar!” over and over and that’s it.

Upon their arrival, congregants will be asked to anoint themselves with a mixture of Royal Violet baby cologne, Fabuloso, and Vick’s Vapor Rub before reciting a selection of traditional prayers such as “Sana Sana Colita de Rana”, “Elian, Amigo, Miami Estas Con Tigo”, and “Mata Fidel” in their traditional Spanglish. Following prayers, the Church will offer sacraments in the form of Cafecitos to represent the caffeinated blood of Christ and Pastelitos (in either Guayaba, Queso, or Carne) to represent the savior’s sweet, cheesy, or meaty body.

The Plantain spoke to self-proclaimed church representative, some random old man who acts like he owns the place, about the church’s membership policy. “The Church will not discriminate against anyone,” said the man, who explained that Versailles will, as it has always, “continue to welcome all Cubans and Presidential candidates, and absolutely no one else.”

By Ariel Huguet

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