Colombian Pop Star Carlos Vives Inaugurates ‘Gaira Café’ at Medellin’s JMC Airport
Colombian music star Carlos Vives first gained international fame in 1993 by bringing traditional vallenato music to the whole world, via the sensational hit-single, “La Gota Fria.”
Ever since, Vives’ pioneering group “La Provincia” has frequently topped the Latin American pop-music charts — as well as popular music-video internet links.
Besides winning numerous Grammy awards, Vives and La Provincia have over the past 25 years garnered huge followings at live performances in many countries far beyond Colombia.
Now, with his brother Guillo and Mexican multinational restaurant investor Mera Corporation, the Vives brothers just brought a traditional-foods “Gaira Café” to the international departures area at Medellin’s Jose Maria Cordoba (JMC) international airport – with a second, Medellin-city “Gaira Café” location on the horizon, brother Guillo told Medellin Herald.
In a September 9 press conference at JMC attended by scores of TV, radio and print journalists, the Vives brothers lectured, sang and showed-off their newest Gaira Café location here — their third nationally, and all featuring traditional foods from Colombia’s Caribbean coast, where the Vives brothers were born.
The brothers first launched Gaira Café 20 years ago in Bogota — initially as a restaurant — and then later added a third-floor musical auditorium, which continues to feature some of Colombia’s top emerging pop-rock artists.
While the JMC location is only open to ticketed international passengers — hence not ideal for attracting spectators to concerts like those at the Bogota city location – it will nevertheless on occasion bring trios or other music groups for impromptu performances at JMC, according to the Vives brothers.
Following the press event here, Mera Corporation president Rafael Aguirre explained to Medellin Herald that his company is investing US$10 million in several restaurants (including slots at JMC) – of which about $1 million went into the latest Gaira Café.
The Mera investments at JMC also include a new Juan Valdez café, an Amazonia Café, a Petit Gourmet restaurant, a Guy Fieri Burger Joint outlet, a Mondongo’s café, and a craft-beer service.
Mera is also eyeing the possibility of opening a Mexican restaurant in the under-construction balcony section at the international-departures area at JMC, Aguirre told us.
The first collaboration between the Vives brothers and Mera came in 2018 at Bogota’s El Dorado airport, involving the second-ever Gaira Café. Along with a Guy Fieri restaurant, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, an Amazonía Café and a Guacamole Ándele restaurant, all these outlets together form what Mera calls the “Zona R” food court at El Dorado.
In a related presentation at the JMC press event, Colombia’s Transportation Minister Angela Orozco praised Mera’s growing investments here. Mera and other investors at JMC have now transformed the international-departures area with a dizzying array of colorful shops and a wide variety of consumer enticements.
The new investments would seem to have favorable prospects, as not only has Medellin seen a huge surge of international tourist numbers (especially in the last five years), but also Colombia nationally now expects that its airports will see some 100 million tourists annually by 2030, Orozco revealed.
Such tourist numbers — staggering by Colombian historical standards – will require billions of dollars of continuing investments in airport and highway infrastructure, including the “fourth generation” (4G) highways now under construction in Antioquia and nationwide, Orozco added.