The Cuban Corn Crisis on Prince Street
The corner of Prince and Elizabeth Streets was noticeably quiet yesterday as Cafe Habana’s lunch patrons were met with a locked door instead of the trendy cafe’s signature Cuban grilled corn.
Throughout the day, would-be patrons who normally loiter outside while waiting for tables or chomping down on corn, appeared confused at the closure. That is, until they noticed the small heart-shaped sign in the glass door notifying them that Cafe Habana was closed in “solidarity” with the Latino community as part of the nation-wide “Day Without Immigrants” protest which called on Latinos and other immigrant groups to go on strike from work, skip school, and boycott shopping for the day.
But hungry patrons didn’t seem that put off by the closure. Instead, they took pics to post on Instagram or Twitter, while others simply went across the street to Oficina Latina, a Latin influenced bistro, which was open. Chipotle and other fast-food joints in the area appeared unaffected by the protest.
Cafe Habana and Habana To-Go are just two of many restaurants in the city that closed in support of the nation-wide protest that hopes to raise awareness of the important contribution of immigrant workers in the restaurant industry. The strike also comes in response to the increased crackdown on illegal immigrants at the hands of ICE agents since the Trump administration took office less than a month ago.
Since its inception, Cafe Habana has consistently employed workers from the Dominican community of the Lower East Side as well as other immigrants from the city’s dwindling minority neighborhoods.