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Monday, July 4, 2022

Last call for ‘Chemas’ as more trendy cantinas flourish

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The Calle 66 corner bar Chemas is closing. Photo: Diario de Yucatán
The Calle 66 corner bar Chemas is closing. Photo: Diario de Yucatán

A no-nonsense traditional corner cantina since 1949, Chemas has seen its last customer.

That last customer was an anthropologist, Sergio Grosjean Abimerhi. He hung out there in its last two weeks “to take a bit of Chemas,” he said.

Recently on Facebook, Chemas has been selling off its kitchen equipment. Possibly for posterity, the author of two books with anecdotes about Mérida’s cantinas bought a device where sausages were hung. 

After several decades, Chemas’ final manager tried to adjust to the times, but was unable to grow the business enough to pay the 18,000-peso monthly rent, reports Diario de Yucatán. Their last day in operation was Oct. 31.

La Negrita was the first and most successful rebranding of a Mérida cantina in recent years. Photo: Nomadic Songlines
La Negrita was the first and most successful rebranding of a Mérida cantina in recent years. Photo: Nomadic Songlines

Rumor has it that the bar will be renovated to fit in with Mérida’s hipper, younger cantinas — La Negrita, El Cardenal, El Dzalbay, El Porvenir and El Tupinamba. Negrita has been the most successful in its transition from a working-class corner watering hole to a youngish, stylish establishment. 

El Cardenal was a traditional cantina until owners gave it an urban hipster makeover. Photo: Yelp
El Cardenal was a traditional cantina until owners gave it an urban hipster makeover. Photo: Yelp
Chemas' no-frills interior didn't attract enough patrons recently. Photo: Facebook
Chemas’ no-frills interior didn’t attract enough patrons recently. Photo: Facebook

Many cantinas in Mérida date back more than a century.

Grosjean said it is sad to see the end of Chemas, which dominated the corner of calles 55 and 66, because it is one of the most iconic classic pubs of the Historic Center. Among its patrons were politicians and people from different social levels, he said.

On Calle 67 and 74, another old standby, Las Quince Letras, closed two weeks ago.

Related: Classic downtown cantina closes }

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