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Centro Asturiano cantina will stay open

YBOR CITY — An almost century-old men's club will survive after Centro Asturiano agreed to keep its cantina open.

The cantina, a small bar room inside the historic headquarters of the Spanish social club Centro Asturiano, was scheduled to close Saturday because of operation costs.

Cantinas, Latin cafes where men play dominoes and cards, were commonplace in Ybor between the early 1900s and 1960s, especially during Ybor's cigar factory days.

Over time, Centro Asturiano's cantina became the last standing in Ybor. It survived on the dues of about 25 men paying dues of $30 a year and the support of Centro Asturiano's membership society.

They paid for the 1,080-square-foot room's electricity and the salary of an attendant, who serves Cuban sandwiches, cafe con leche and cocktails.

This year, Centro Asturiano decided it couldn't support the cantina anymore. So cantina users rallied and offered up a cost-cutting plan that Centro Asturiano's board of directors approved on April 22.

The plan doubles yearly dues and limits the club's hours, said Centro Asturiano executive director Rick Duran.

Starting Monday, the cantina will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. That's a change from six days a week.

The cantina will also operate without a paid attendant, relying on volunteers.

Justin George can be reached at (813) 226-3368 or jgeorge@sptimes.com.

Centro Asturiano cantina will stay open 04/29/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 5:12pm]
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