BUCKTOWN — A Cuban restaurant that's been at its Armitage location for nearly two decades is closing up Saturday and plans to move elsewhere, the eatery announced Friday.
Cafe Laguardia, which first opened as a small shop before expanding at 2111 W. Armitage Ave., sent a newsletter to fans letting them know that Saturday would be their last day in business at that location.
"We are in the works on closing a deal to a new location which will be disclosed at a later date," owner Carlos Laguardia wrote.
The rising cost of rent led the family to start looking for a new location after spending 18 years on Armitage, said Ivette Laguardia, who helps manage the restaurant with her family.
"It was very emotional," she said of having to inform customers and staff.
She pointed to the chair where her late grandfather, Cafe Laguardia founder Roger Laguardia, used to sit and smoke cigars and sip on rum and Coke.
"They used to call him 'Little Giant,'" she said, referring to his short stature.
Her grandfather ran a cafe in Cuba called Los Cubanitos before he moved to the U.S. and later opened the restaurant, which has since expanded and become a go-to for paella and Cuban sandwiches along with Cuban mojitos and sangria.
Now, her father owns the place.
Ivette Laguardia said the family hopes to keep the restaurant in the same neighborhood, though she wasn't sure how soon the reopening might be.
"The cooks started crying," she said. "I said, 'Don't start.'"