Cuba’s Famous Ice Cream Parlor Closed for Lack of Ice Cream
Coppelia, one of the many symbols of the utopian dreams of the Cuban Revolution –- in this case producing more and better flavors than the United States — is closed to the public this Tuesday.
It is not due to remodeling, as happened in 2019, nor due to sanitary measures, as it was for months during the covid pandemic – when, in fact, they did sell take-out at their outside counter – but quite simply because there is no ice cream.
The employees responded directly to customers who were surprised that the establishment had not begun to serve the public at its usual ten in the morning. “There isn’t any, there isn’t any ice cream.”
The panorama of the ice cream parlor, at one time characterized by the very long lines that had to be endured before entering under the shadow of its concrete roofs, was bleak. Lights off, chairs piled on the terraces, silence.
Traditionally called the “Ice Cream Cathedral” in Cuba, Coppelia was inaugurated in 1966 and, like so many things during that time, lived a brief splendor. It soon began to languish, until the crisis of the Special Period, when the quantity and quality of its supply drastically dropped. However, even those terrible ’90s the ice cream parlor did not end. On the contrary, being one of the few things that still worked, the crowds were enormous and, once the circulation of the dollar was allowed, it was common to see foreigners enter with their currencies without having to wait in line.
Its remodeling almost four years ago aroused much expectation, but it could not stop the decline of the place that, with the Ordering Task, at the beginning of 2021, suffered another blow: prices rose exponentially, from the weight and a half that each ball cost to seven .
Last March, they raised the cost of the product again – 9 pesos for Coppelia ice cream and 7 for Varadero, of lower quality – among numerous criticisms for using soy milk in production. Shortly after, the prices dropped slightly, but every week the supply dwindled.
This Tuesday, the outside window was only open for a while, to sell a strange peach ice cream, which seemed to have no milk, very different from the one they usually serve on the terraces.
“Let’s go, mi’jo, “ a woman said resignedly to her companion on Tuesday morning, “the cathedral of ice cream is no longer even a little chapel.”