Customers react to closure of Silver Lake’s Café Tropical

For nearly 50 years, Café Tropical has served as a gathering place for morning cafecitos, afternoon lunch meetings and endless writing sessions in Silver Lake. For many, it also provided a taste of home. But the L.A. staple will no longer be serving up its Cuban medianoches.

Earlier this week, the cafe located on Sunset Boulevard posted a handwritten note on one of its windows announcing it would be permanently closing after service Friday.

A handwritten sign at Cafe Tropical directed at customers and seen on Nov. 28, 2023, states the restaurant will be permanently closed after Dec. 1, 2023.

(Suzy Exposito / De Los)

While Café Tropical has been in business since 1975, it was bought in 2019 by the owners of long-standing Cuban restaurant El Cochinito, who also own the recently-opened Cuban-inspired cocktail bar Bolita.

A similar sign announcing El Cochinito’s closure was also posted on the restaurant’s window. Bolita announced on Instagram its last day of service would be Saturday. All three businesses are reported to be closed on Google.

Customers reacted to the news on social media, sharing what the businesses have meant to them.

“This is hurting in more ways than you can imagine,” @Nene.Pablo commented on Instagram. “This place was a refuge for so many 💔” added @meganrosati.

Several people also pointed at how the cafe and El Cochinito restaurant cultivated community and spoke to their identity. Here, they could find an authentic Cubano or batido de mamey — Cuban staples that reminded them of home.

“As a Cubano Floridian transplant who’s been in LA for almost eight years, this place made me feel at home but also made me feel like I was making a new home with all the wonderful employees and customers that I talked to and got to know. It’s weird to say but having my cafecito and croquetas de jamón is part of my identity. These places cultivate community and relationships. I’m afraid LA might be pivoting in a direction that will only hurt small businesses not help them grow. We love you Cafe Tropical. Te extrañaré,” shared @renerod.

“I can’t believe you guys are closing! Growing up with my grandmas Cuban cooking you guys made LA feel like home for me,” @hsancheziii wrote on El Cochinito’s Instagram, which was deactivated Friday.

For many who often make coffee shops their offices, Café Tropical was a go-to in L.A. On any given afternoon, screenwriters, authors and journalists sat glued behind laptops while groups exchanged ideas over guava pastries.

Poet Yesika Salgado, who grew up in Silver Lake, often talks about the time she spent at the cafe. Here is where she worked on her first two books “Corazón” and “Tesoro.” In 2019, she told The Times that she’d joke with workers, “I’m here so much, I should start paying rent.”

De Los reporter Chelsea Hylton and columnist Suzy Exposito contributed to this report.

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