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Developer names condos after cherished cafe it demolished

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The restaurant’s former owner says it’s a “slap in the face”

The 24-unit condo project on Melrose and Virgil avenues is named Cha Cha Cha.
Courtesy of Joy Bolger/Compass, photo by Erik Grammer

The beloved Caribbean restaurant Cha Cha Cha sat on the corner of Melrose and Virgil avenues in East Hollywood for more than three decades. Now, a condominium complex stands in its place, named after the restaurant to “pay homage” to the eatery it replaced.

“It had history so we thought it would be good to preserve that in some way,” says Todd Wexman, chief principal of the Historic Filipinotown-based firm 4Site Real Estate.

Built by 4Site and designed by LA-based firm Holtz Architecture, the modern industrial building displays tropical murals and turquoise and orange accents throughout. There are 24 loft-like condos with stainless steel appliances, in-unit washer and dryers, and polished concrete floors. The building has a pool, a gym, and parking. The units are priced from $399,000 to $950,000, with monthly HOA dues of $445, according to project’s website.

It’s the first condo project 4Site has developed, says Wexman.

“We felt like this was a good opportunity to provide housing,” he says.

Wexman did not reach out to the former restaurant owners about naming the building “Cha Cha Cha,” but he says he believed they “would be flattered.”

They’re not.

“I was in such awe when I saw that they had the audacity to do that,” says Javier Anaya, one of three former owners of ‘Cha Cha Cha.’

It’s “a slap in the face,” he says.

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RIP Cha Cha Cha

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Late chef Toribio Prado opened the restaurant with business partner and friend Mario Tamayo in 1986. Prado’s three nephews, Anaya included, took over the business in 2003.

Known for its colorful, funky deco and Caribbean dishes, the restaurant closed in 2016 when Wexman’s company, Virgil Melrose LP, purchased the property for more than $2.5 million. The restaurant quietly announced its last day in a simple Facebook post.

Anaya and his brothers decided not to purchase the property or relocate the restaurant because it was too expensive.

He says he understands that businesses grow and communities change, but “when big developers come in and do that, they’re taking away from what people originally loved about Silver Lake.”

Anaya and his family now own the local chain Pinches Tacos. He credits his uncle for paving the way for him.

“Whenever we think of ‘Cha Cha Cha, we always think of him,” says Anaya.

Asked to respond to Anaya’s comments, Wexman said: “No comment.”