Hot spot turns five, readies for next move

first_img“The closing is a disappointment. It’s sad. Our attitude is positive,” said Luis Rodriguez. “We are going to make the most of a bad situation until we can raise enough funds to come back with a bigger, better Tia Chucha’s. But we are not giving up, we just have to have this little setback for a while.” The center is scheduled to re-open next month six miles away in Lake View Terrace in a spot just half the size of its current 2,400 square feet. The move comes as independent bookstores struggle to remain afloat and rents quickly outpace what smaller sellers can afford. The Rodriguezes said they are lucky and they will survive – albeit meagerly – for a while. But some say inevitably the identity of the scrappy cultural center will be permanently altered. Absent will be the coffee bar and many of the shelves of books teenagers from Sylmar High School came to read after school. The cafe was just blocks from the school, where teens could find a retreat: a place to listen to music, take guitar lessons or just read. Now it will be miles from the school. “I am bummed out because it’s the only one thing that is walking distance from the school,” said Kevin Sanchez, as he tipped his skateboard up from the ground with his feet. “It’s safe here,” the 17-year-old said while surveying the mini-mall parking lot filled with teenagers. Inside, the shop is adorned with artwork with cultural themes like D a de los Muertos, the Mexican holiday honoring the dead, or prints of basketball players stretched out like ballerinas. The center provided bilingual books and taught indigenous Mexican history in a heavily Latino area. Nearly every day of the week there were classes or events ranging from open-microphone nights to Aztec dance. Sanchez said he spent countless afternoons plays Jinga with his friends there and has escaped some of the struggles of daily life through reading. The new shop is set to open mid-March at 10258 Foothill Blvd. in Lake View Terrace. [email protected] (818) 713-3741 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SYLMAR – For five years, Tia Chucha’s Cafe Cultural stood in a washed-out Sylmar mini-mall, a cultural gem in a Northeast San Fernando Valley bereft of bookstores and theater. The founders and about 100 others celebrated that small triumph Saturday, even as they were packing up the store and trying to raise funds to help open in their new location. “It’s bittersweet,” said Angelica Loa, a member of the center’s nonprofit board. “But we are not going to look at this as tragedy because we are moving, not closing.” Forced out by the mall’s owners, who last year raised rents and are now making way for a laundromat, center founders Trini Rodriguez and her author-husband Luis said they are disappointed they will have to relocate a store they worked so hard to build into the community. last_img

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