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Remembering Adela Fargas of Casa Adela

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Photo via Casa Adela's Instagram.
Photo via Casa Adela’s Instagram.

It’s a big loss for Loisaida. Friends, loved ones and loyal customers today are remembering Adela Fargas, the beloved owner of Casa Adela on Avenue C.

Adela has been cooking authentic Puerto Rican food (as the sign in the window announces to passersby) since 1976. An announcement went up yesterday on Casa Adela’s Facebook page:

With our Deepest Sorrow, We announce the passing of our Beloved Adela, a Respected Woman, Mother, and Hero to us all… We love you so much and you will be missed, but not forgotten.

City Council member Carlina Rivera, a life-long Lower East Side resident, posted a tribute on social media, saying of Adela, “She was a Puerto Rican patriot and an icon of the LES.” As Rivera noted, Casa Adela has for decades been a center of Latino life in this neighborhood, hosting locals, tourists and celebrities alike.  “My heart goes out to her family,” said Rivera. “Her smile, island pride and magic touch in the kitchen will be missed by so many.”

In 2015, the New York Times profiled Casa Adela in its “Neighborhood Joint” column:

Ms. Ferguson (this is the last name used by the Times in the 2015 story) has been cooking since she opened a luncheonette one block down on Avenue C in the 1970s. That is where she concocted a knockout seasoning and the perfect timing for roasting a chicken, though it’s pointless to ask for the recipe. “If I told you, I’d have to kill you,” said Luis Rivera, 56, a manager of the restaurant for the past 20 years. He is also Ms. Ferguson’s son. “She makes people feel like they are eating from Grandma’s hand,” he said. “Many people, their grandmothers are back home,” he said, meaning in Puerto Rico. “So they come here.”

A couple of years ago, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation named Casa Adela its “Business of the Month.” Richard Ramirez, who noted the restaurant, wrote:

 (Adela) is …an urban icon, she is a modern day phenomenon, she is eighty years young and she is at the restaurant on any given day between the hours of four thirty and five in the morning, getting her kitchen ready for her patrons. To see her in action is worth the visit; to taste her food is just an added delight. Upper Manhattan has Sylvia’s (soul food); Lower Manhattan has Adela’s best Puerto Rican cuisine in town! If you come once I can assure you will come back again.

As EV Grieve reported, a memorial has gone up outside Casa Adela on Avenue C near East Fourth Street. A viewing takes place Friday afternoon and evening at Ortiz Funeral Home, 22 First Avenue.

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