Though New York's Spanish-speaking immigrants mostly from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, gave the 24/7, one-stop-shop corner stores the name "bodegas" decades ago, Spanish for warehouse or cellar, many of New York's bodegas are now owned and operated by Yemeni immigrants.
But Lantigua's Deli Market in Williamsburg is still proudly Latino — and has become more than a corner store for its Puerto Rican and Dominican neighbors and staff, serving as a social club, music venue and restaurant.
In between stock shelves, neighbors and bodega workers gather to sit on folding chairs and listen to music, drink, chat, and as you'll see in the video, sometimes bang on kitchenware and other makeshift instruments keeping the beat to bumping salsa tunes.
"It's not to make money or anything like that," Rafael Estevez, former owner and current manager of Lantigua's, said in Spanish. "It's to make us feel good."
Beyond providing a local hangout, Estevez also dishes up meals including roasted chicken and pork, salmon, shrimp, tacos and ham and cheese sandwiches.
Estevez moved to Williamsburg in 1991, and soon after opened his first bodega on Driggs Avenue.
But rising rents chased him farther south and east and in 2002 he opened Lantigua's Deli Market on Manhattan Avenue. He recently sold the business to a friend, though he still cooks and manages the bodega.
Though here too, rent is going up, Estevez pointed out. They have 6 years left on the lease, but the owner of the building has told him that, "someone wants to buy the bodega and make it modern."
No matter what happens, Estevez said, "it's very important that it stays a Latin place."