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Cantina El Grillón ends 105-year run in the Centro

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After 105 years, a family-owned cantina downtown closes its doors. Photo: Sipse

Mérida, Yucatán — Another historic cantina bites the dust.

El Grillón had attracted patrons across from Parque Eulogio Rosado since 1912. Now, it’s selling Christmas items rather than serving beer and botanas.

The cantina was surrounded by shops in the heart of the market district. But somehow its busy location wasn’t enough to keep the enterprise afloat.

It was owned by the Zapata family for four generations, according to the Sipse news organization.

A local tourist guide said Grillón was known for its wide bar where customers could chat with parroquianos, or the regulars.  The bar always had great specials and botanas, such as mole and fish, that were served “as your first drink arrives,” writes Yucatán Today.

The establishment joined the list of bars that have disappeared from the city’s streetscape since last year, starting with Las Quince Letras on Calle 67 and 74 and Chemas, on 55 and 66.

A sign at Chemas announces a reopening with new owners. It is yet to be seen if Chemas will go the way of La Negrita and El Cardenal, historic neighborhood bars that were overhauled with a more youthful, hipster style.

Although El Grillón wasn’t using social media, a Facebook customer posted this photo from inside the cantina last year.

Another casualty of the times is the cantina El Gato Negro, on Calle 56 and 61. That space has been converted into a market for cellphone gadgets.

While most cantinas have juke boxes, some have been an important venue for musicians, and have attracted bands from across the country seeking to grow an audience.

“The phenomenon of migration to the Yucatecan capital has brought musicians from all over the world who have found a space in cantinas to show their work,” said Emiliano Buenfil, who leads the musical group La Chancil Tropical.

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