Adiós La Rosita

When I came to this neighborhood in the 1960s, it was still part of New York City. I lived on 109th Street, where everybody was Dominican and Puerto Rican. On the corner of Broadway, where Chase Bank is now, was a pulpería (i.e. a large colmado). Across Broadway a Cuban diner, Ideal (which later became fancy, with tablecloths and candles, and then shut down). On each of the four corners of 110th Street and Broadway, one or more vegetable markets where you could buy recao, plátano, yuca, batata, yautía, ñame, and every type of vivere. Amsterdam Avenue below 110th Street, aside from a few "antique" stores, was 100% criolla, well down into the 80s. This was a neighborhood of real people, families, gushing fire hydrants, children playing in street; of exhilerating music, enticing aromas; a neighborhood where every block had its own frío-frío man. Fast-forward 40 years and, aside from a small colmado on 108th Street just off Broadway and a few remaining family businesses on Amsterdam like Los Cuñados, La Rosita is the last vestige of those days, the last place to get a delicious home-cooked meal that doesn't cost a fortune, the last place that feels like home and where everybody seems like family, and really, the last good reason to live around here.

¿Cuántas vidas se trastornarán solamente por el bien de un solo casero avaricioso? A mí me parece que centenas de gente trabajan en La Rosita. Cada vez que me voy p'allá, veo cada vez más. Creo que La Rosita ha de estar uno de los mayores empleadores de hispanos en el área. Ay ¿qué van a hacer todos los empleados? Madres, padres, abuelas... que trabajan tan duro para mantener a sus familias... Adónde irán? Rite-Aid? Duane Reade? ¿Para hacer los $6.00 la hora, sin propinas, en un ambiente hostil? Y ¿qué será de todos los dominicanos, puertoriqueños, y cubanos que, contra viento y marea – las rentas que se dispararse, la yupificación sin tregua ni merced – que todavía ingeniárselos para vivir por aquí? La Rosita les ofrece un refugio, un amparo, un lugar familiar y cómodo para relajarse y sentirse como en casa. Uno lo ve especialmente por las mañanas. ¿Dónde más conseguir un desayuno dominicano? – huevos con mangú, salami, queso frito, pimiento verde y cebolla avinagrada, pan de agua, y café con leche. Ay ay ay, después de eso, no hay que volver a comer hasta la semana siguiente!

Adiós La Rosita, y gracias por todo.

Frank da Cruz
December 16, 2007

(Originally posted to http://larosita.wordpress.com/ (People section) but links to sub-pages at that site seem to break on a daily basis. Anyway, they invite comments from everybody who has appreciated them these past 25 years. Please visit and add a line.)

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