Cuba’s Iconic Ice Cream Parlor Coppelia Closes

All Coppelia employees are on the street, selling the sweet treats they have left in stock. (14ymedio)

By Juan Diego Rodríguez (14ymedio)

HAVANA TIMES – The emblematic Coppelia ice cream parlor, located on L and 23, in the heart of Havana’s El Vedado, is closed on all four sides this Thursday, with the lights off and the tables cleared. Again, as was the case earlier this year, there is no ice cream.

A novelty, this time, is that all the employees are on the street, selling the sweet treats they have left in stock. Only marquesitas and capitolios, rough and tasteless, for 50 pesos. “There is no ice cream, there is no milk, there is no sugar, there is nothing,” one of the workers proclaimed with humor, responding with another question when asked when the establishment would reopen: “Oh, my love, in what country do you live?”

Other employees responded, dragging their feet, but suggesting that it won’t be soon: “It’s not known,” “This is for a long time,” “It won’t be around for a long time.”

A worker from the Coppelia ice cream factory itself, who asks to remain anonymous, confirms to this newspaper the dramatic situation in which the industry finds itself. “I know of colleagues who resold some of the ice cream we produced, but they hadn’t for months, because the product was of such poor quality that it wasn’t sold, it looked more like durofrío [popsicles] than ice cream.”

According to the same source, last September, on the occasion of the G-77 Summit in Havana, a limited edition of Coppelia ice cream was made for guests at the official event and hotels. “They practically militarized the factory to prevent the employees from stealing some of the ice cream,” he says. “The day they were going to move the product, they allowed us workers to try a little dish of ice cream. We were quite indignant, they were letting us try it so that we would remember what real ice cream was.”

Called in Cuba the “cathedral of ice cream,” Coppelia was inaugurated in 1966 with the utopian objective that the Revolution would produce more and better flavors than in capitalist countries. Its splendor was brief, although not even during the crisis of the Special Period, in the 90s, when the quantity and quality of its offering drastically decreased, did the endless lines at its counters subside. Being the little that still functioned, the influx was enormous, and, once the circulation of the dollar was allowed, it was common to see foreigners entering with their currencies, to a better stocked area, without having to wait in line.

Its remodeling four years ago aroused much expectation, but could not stop the decline of the place. Since the covid-19 pandemic, when it was also closed due to measures to avoid contagion, it has not raised its head. The poor quality of the product and the high prices have been putting the final nails in the coffin of one of the symbols of triumphant Castroism.

Translated by Translating Cuba

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times

4 thoughts on “Cuba’s Iconic Ice Cream Parlor Coppelia Closes

  • There are privately owned ice cream shops that sell wholesale as well as direct to public. Crying over the loss of the historic Coppelia is understandable but it is just another casualty of the economy. Calle 42 just one block north
    of the food market exists such a store with huge lineups all day and they even sell 10 kilo pails which are bought by Cubans for resale!
    Private companies allied with the government.
    New enterprises like this seeing owners running 5-10 other business getting rich while the general public suffers.

    The perception that there is mass shortages of food in Cuba is well constructed mirage: the problem is food management. Privatized companies ate selling everything on line and even delivering products for a surcharge.
    Instead if going to public stores the food products imported are put in the hands of private companies. Why, how and what are the true realities of this hide hidden in corruption and suspicion. The chosen ones driving new cars are everywhere and probably do not want any changes at all as the rise up financially.

    Yes, the reality is bad. People cleaning floors 160 hours a month for 2500 pesos: a typical government job while their monthly costs are over 5,000! So single women have few options but to explore other options thus fuelling the secret sex trade bartering to make ends meet.
    Single women with 2 children will do anything to aid their children’s survival!! Factual!

    The ‘new’ black marketing is alive and well as power outages result in no business transactions with any electronic devices so the stores, banks and other business sit idle this causing even more problems.Data dictatorship is upon Cuba.

    I am not Cuban and my opinions are just that but my friends in Cuba spell out truths that every Cuban knows is true as we head into the high theft season circling Christmas and New Years. Yeeks carumba eh!! Check out Youtube videos and encrypted social media and see for yourself!!!

    Hope and prayers have no place in politics!
    Better to embrace acceptance and????

  • They should shut down the whole country after all the only thing working in there is repression and intimidation. The King Castro ordered in 1965 to build the biggest ice cream Parlor in the world. Ridiculous ? Needless to say
    Imagine with all that money invest in the construction of the absurd egomaniac project were used in the maintenance of the infrastructure, and all the buildings that Castro stole from original owners.

  • The final nail in Fidel’s coffin.
    Coppelia was El Jefe’s baby. He dreamt of it, had it designed and constructed as a personal gift for the families of La Habana.
    If the current regime lets it die, it will also be the final nail in Cuba’s coffin.

  • No surprise here. The last time that I visited Cuba, Coppelia was only open 3 hours a day in the morning. The excuse given at the time was that it was necessary to close for renovations, although there was no evidence of renovations taking place. When I asked a waitress what was being renovated, the waitress responded with the Cuban gesture of sucking air through the teeth. Any Cuban or anyone who knows a Cuban knows what that means.

Comments are closed.