Nuevo Culture

Puerto Rican Landmark Toñita’s Celebrating 50th Anniversary — Here’s When & Where

Toñita’s, one of New York City’s last Puerto Rican social clubs, will soon celebrate a major milestone. On June 16, 2024, the community will commemorate Tonita’s 50th anniversary. They will also come together to celebrate Maria Antonia Cay, best known as Toñita, for keeping the Brooklyn bar open for half a century.

“We will be closing down our entire block to celebrate our Queen [Maria Antonia’s] 50th Anniversary,” reads the Instagram page for Tonita’s. “Come dance, sing and share with us … Live music, ceremony, domino tournament and much more.”

According to the New York Times, Cay opened the venue in 1974 as a members-only Caribbean Social Club for the neighborhood baseball team. In 2000, she acquired a liquor license and started selling beer and Puerto Rican food to patrons. As gentrification pushed longtime businesses out of the area over the years, Tonita’s continued to be a pillar in the community. Even when Cay was offered millions of dollars for her property, she held steadfast.

“I’m staying here with my people as long as I can,” Cay told the Times. “This isn’t for me to make money or a fortune. It’s to maintain a space for all of us to be together.”

Some of the Latine celebrities who have visited Tonita’s in the last few years include Maluma and Bad Bunny.

Tonita’s 50th-anniversary celebration will take place on June 16, 2024, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Grand St. between Driggs Ave. and Roebling St. Follow @tonitasny on Instagram for more details in the coming weeks.