Adios, La Isla: Cuchifrito Spot Shutters on 14th Street

la islaMelvin Felix

A late-night standby for cheap, heaping helpings of Latin grub has closed its doors in the face of a rent hike, according to an employee.

La Isla, on 14th Street, stopped serving cuchifritos, empanadas, rotisserie chicken and other Caribbean staples this week, and will officially give up its space between Avenues A and B on Monday. Yesterday, it was empty but for a refrigerator, a steam table and a small plant by the front window, which an employee said had been there since La Isla opened a almost decade ago.

The employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said the restaurant’s management had decided not to renew the ten-year lease at 542 East 14th Street because its landlord had asked for an additional $3,000 per month, plus additional property tax payments; the one-two punch would’ve meant paying almost $15,000 per month instead of the previous $8,000.

photo(299)Melvin Felix For rent on the same block.

The building’s landlord, Solil Management, did not return messages requesting comment. The company is renting out two other vacant storefronts on the block (at 510 East 14th Street, formerly home to a jewelry store, and 514 East 14th Street, formerly a clothing store.)

The employee said she would be relocated to La Isla’s sister restaurant in East Harlem (also named La Isla) or another in Williamsburg. Other employees, she said, had not been so lucky.

photo(297)Melvin Felix Also for rent.

A tipster told The Local yesterday that the restaurant was being cleared out; a number of passersby were shocked to hear that it had suddenly closed. Several walked in, right past the “closed” sign on the windows, to sit down for lunch.

Todd T., a 13th Street resident who stopped in to ask why the restaurant closed, said he ate at La Isla at least once a week. “It’s terrible,” he said. “There’s not that much to eat around here as it is.”

He settled for Chinese food a few doors down.