14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodriguez, Havana, 17 October 17, 2023 — La Casa de Perros Calientes (The Hot Dog House) — located on 23rd and K streets, right in front of the giant Coppelia ice cream parlor in Vedado — has reopened its doors after being closed for months. The colors of its signs, red and yellow, are the same but now it is called Perros Calientes Lalola, (Lalola Hot Dogs). A red sausage-shaped inflatable welcomes new customers.
The site, located at one of the capital’s most heavily trafficked intersections, is halfway between the Habana Libre hotel and what will be the city’s tallest highrise, Tower K. Originally, it was a state-run cafe but in the early 2000s it began selling hot dogs, which is how it got the nickname La Perreta.
“Has any Havana resident not eaten ’bread with dog’ from this place?” asks Clara, who lives in the neighborhood. “People used to line up outside Coppelia and had to wait so long that they would cross the street and buy a hot dog to hold them over. There were people there at all hours. Morning, noon and night.”
It definitely seems like they are privatizing Vedado
Tony, a Central Havana resident, recalls that the place was still in operation during the pandemic. They were selling hot dogs, coffee and a soft drink but adds, “Like everything else, it was going downhill… [Initially,] it was different. The bread was softer and they had ketchup and mustard. But later they just gave you bread and dog, without anything else. Even then, the bread was so hard that you had to throw it away and eat just the meat.”
The last time a reporter from 14ymedio visited the place was in January of 2022, when it was still in state hands. At that point, the Hot Dog House was not even selling hot dogs. Only some ham croissants for thirty pesos apiece. Previously, when they did have the meat, a hot dog cost twenty pesos
Now, the same product at Lalola Hot Dogs sells for 180 pesos. And that is not the only thing that comes with a sky-high price tag. Juices go for 150 pesos, soft drinks for 170, energy drinks for 200, malts for 250 and milkshakes for a whopping 600 pesos. The establishment offers several types of combos. The cheapest, at 300 pesos, includes two frankfurters with gouda cheese, ketchup, mustard, and a canned soft drink
They also sell grocery store items. These include a kilo of powdered milk for 1,800 pesos, cooking oil for 600, a liter of yogurt for 500, a kilo of roasted peanuts for 1,200, and even whiskey, which goes for between 1,200 and 1,300 pesos.
Unlike when it was state-run and cheap, the place had few customers on Tuesday. “People used to come here to kill their hunger because hot dogs were very cheap. I used to come on Fridays, fill my shopping bag with hot dogs, then refrigerate them so I could eat them during the week while I was watching television,” says Ranier, who today is ordering only one hotdog. “At any rate, whoever owns this place should do a good business. Just look where we are,” he says, making a circular gesture as he points to 23rd Avenue.
Lalola Hot Dogs joins a whole string of food-service establishments that used to be state-run but are now under private management, especially in this centrally located area of Havana. Among the latest and most noteworthy are La Carreta and the old BimBom, which will now be called Bueníssimo. “It definitely seems like they are privatizing Vedado,” observes Ranier.
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