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The student news site of California State University - Los Angeles

University Times

The student news site of California State University - Los Angeles

University Times

Cafe Tropical set to reopen after outpouring of support

An illustration of Cafe Tropical by UT Community News.

After a soft launch two weeks ago, Cafe Tropical in Silver Lake plans to re-open next week – after a soft re-opening this Thursday.

That’s according to Danny Khorunzhiy, one of its owners.

“We’re very excited to see so many community members come pouring out to support us, saying, ‘We can’t wait to have you back,’,” Khorunzhiy said. “We’re excited to be back and have been able to bring a good number of our staff back.”

The closure

Late last year, workers at Cafe Tropical posted a sign on their doors announcing they were closing permanently on Dec. 1, after nearly 50 years of service.

The unexpected closure of one of LA’s most popular cafe’s sent shockwaves throughout a community that for the last 30 years has called the cafe a home away from home. 

By the following day, the news had spread like wildfire on social media as patrons waited in long lines for one last visit and a cup of strong coffee. Employees inside the Cafe worked nonstop as their rush-hour lasted a lot longer for the last few days of business. 

Tributes on several platforms told stories of how Cafe Tropical was a favorite hang-out spot and how so many would miss the guava pie. Others made nostalgic jokes about how their coffee affected their nervous system during meetings.

Cafe Tropical had abruptly closed after a family business dispute, according to a Los Angeles Times story. The dispute led to the closure of two other businesses, El Cochinito Restaurant and Bar La Bolita. 

Community meetings at the cafe

A key part of what made Cafe Tropical so popular over the years was its community room behind the cafe, which served as a haven for community members in recovery for 30 years. In 1993, a meeting was held every week in the room between the back kitchen storage area and the cafe. Soon after, more meetings started, filling up the weekly schedule in the room. The sober community

Guava pastry on yellow paper in cafe background
Customers flocked to Cafe Tropical for guava, passion fruit and other pastries. Photo by Tupac Zapata.

affectionately called it “Tropical” instead of the full name.

“I started going to the meetings there during the 2000s,” said Ann Bradley, a resident of Silver Lake for over 40 years. The meetings started as early as 7 a.m. and the latest meeting would end at 10 p.m. Other support groups also held meetings at Cafe Tropical. 

A man who only wanted to be identified as Dan because of his history with drug and alcohol addition said the cafe helped him find sobriety.

“One day, I went into Tropical and decided to use drugs in the bathroom. The next thing I know, I woke up as paramedics were wheeling me on a gurney through a meeting. I had overdosed and been brought back to life,” he said.

Dan eventually returned to Tropical and was greeted by Donato Lopez, who at the time was the manager, and was told he could always come and buy stuff and attend meetings, but to please not use the bathroom. Three years after that bathroom incident, Dan got sober in 2015. He said he has stayed sober since.

When the news broke Nov. 27, an emergency meeting was held to move the 19 meetings that were held at Tropical every week. By the following day, all the meetings had found a new home in three different places not too far away from the Cafe. Some of those may return when the cafe re-opens.


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