Bittersweet Pastry Shop & Cafe in Pilsen gets unwelcome message in graffiti

Leah Hope Image
Monday, March 4, 2024
Pilsen pastry shop gets unwelcome message in graffiti
A Pilsen, Chicago pastry shop, Bittersweet bakery, received an unwelcome message in graffiti last week. They also have a Lakeview location.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Pilsen business is cleaning up after getting targeted by vandals who left a message.

The owner of the restaurant is responding Monday, saying they aren't going anywhere.

A new Pilsen cafe preparing for its first outdoor season on South Laflin Street got an unwelcoming message.

"It's just disappointing because I feel like they didn't take the time to try and understand what we are trying to do here," said Esther Griego, owner of Bittersweet Pastry Shop & Cafe.

Staff of Bittersweet Pastry Shop arrived to see graffiti early Friday morning on the windows. The messages included "gentrifiers," "sell outs" and "get out of Pilsen."

Griego identifies as Latina, and she said her partners are from Mexico.

She said they purposefully chose the Latino neighborhood for their second location.

SEE ALSO: Chicago police investigating antisemitic graffiti found on Logan Square buildings

Their original shop is in Lakeview.

"We don't want to make any assumptions about the person who did this; we really want to make sure that everyone knows where we are coming from, and we want to contribute to that communities," Griego said.

While Pilsen may be known as a primarily Latino community now, it has a long history of being home to people from Ireland, Germany and eastern Europe.

"It breaks my heart," resident Patricia Carlos Dominguez said.

Life-long resident Carlos Dominguez saw the graffiti Friday. She said the neighborhood has seen changes, and continues to change. She said that's a good thing.

"This was the port of entry for everyone. That's the way we feel; we still feel it's a port of entry for everybody. We have to give everybody a chance," Carlos Dominguez said.

"It's disheartening, but we are not going to be intimidated. We are not going to leave; we are going to clean it up and get going the next day," Griego said.

Indeed, the letters have been washed away, and the cafe is open for business.

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