Silver Lake’s Café Tropical loses a familiar face

Memorial to Donato Lopez

Memorial to Donato Lopez

Storefront ReportSILVER 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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  1. Very sad news. I’ve seen him there for years. My condolences to his loved ones.

  2. I am so sorry to hear this. He was always smiling, always in motion, such a great guy.. Such a loss for his family and for our neighborhood

  3. Mark in Sunset Junction

    Wow. So sad. A fixture in Tropical. And always friendly and welcoming. I might not go in for a year, but when I came back, it’s like we’d just seen each other. He really made the place. He will be missed.

  4. This is such sad news. I feel terrible for not knowing and offering my condolences when I was there yesterday. Tropical is a treasure and everyone there makes you feel like you’re in a warm gem of a sanctuary in the city. My heart goes out to his family and loved ones.

  5. Condolences to his friends and family. Tropical is one of my favorite neighborhood spots, and everyone who works there is so friendly and warm — a true neighborhood gem.

  6. 15 years of a friendly face and hello every time i’ve gone in their. And he always remembered my name. Really sad to hear this. Donato was a great man!! RIP

  7. Condolences to the family and everyone at Cafe Tropical. RIP Donato Lopez.

  8. My condolences to his friends and family and employees. It seemed like everyone loved him. He was a shining face to get coffee from and always so friendly.

  9. Rip donato..
    my only comment in regards to cafe tropical is that I am sick and tired of paying 4 dollars for a cup of coffee and have to sit next to some smelly , foul homeless person sitting at the counter sipping water.
    Why the tolerate homeless loitering is beyond me….goodbye tropical

    • SO sorry to hear about the loss to the family and all that new Donato, I see how the community has gathered in this location and it is really touching. RIP

      I believe the cafe tolerates the homeless (who are apart of the community too btw) because maybe they have sympathized with their need to be accepted, maybe they have realized that it is very difficult to be displaced, alone, hungry and looked upon as disgusting, sometimes they just want to feel normal. If you have to walk past them in the 5 minutes that are you there getting your latte and dare think that your life is more valuable then please don’t go here!

    • I’ve been a patron of Cafe Tropical for over 15 years and have never had the misfortune of having to sit next to someone like you – intolerant, grammatically challenged, heartless turd.

  10. So sad!

    Donato’s wry smile, the smell of the pastries and the lip-burning heat of a fresh cafe con leche are all sense-memories that come flooding back when I think of that place.

    ¡Descansa en paz!

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