SILVER LAKE — For many regulars at Café Tropical, Donato Lopez was a familiar sight behind the counter as they ordered cafe con leche and guava-filled pastries. “He was the face you saw every morning,” said one employee of the Cuban-style bakery and cafe. Now, Lopez’ face smiles from a photo placed on the counter and surrounded flowers – a memorial to the man who died on Jan. 1 at age 53, according to employees.
Lopez, who employees identified as the owner and manager of the cafe, had not been seen at Café Tropical since early December, when an employee took him to a hospital. An employee who declined to be identified said Lopez had been suffering from an infection. But the cause of death was not known.
Lopez, a native of Jocotepec, Mexcio, had taken over the cafe at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Parkman Avenue four years ago, according a worker. He became the most recent person to run the place that has been serving Cuban-style coffee, pastries and sandwiches for about 40 years.
Customers who inquire about Lopez have been surprised to hear about his death. “Some of them can’t believe it,” said one employee.
The cafe will remain in Lopez’ family and will we be managed by an older brother, said the employee. “It’s going to remain the same.”
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