Coppelia (ice cream parlor)
Coppelia is an ice cream parlor in Havana, Cuba. It's one of the largest ice cream parlors in the world. It is located on the part of Calle 23 known as La Rampa in the Vedado district, and the flying-saucer-shaped building and lot occupies the entire city block between Calles 23 and 21, and Calles K and L. Coppelia has been a major city landmark for both locals and visitors since its opening in 1966, but acquired additional fame when it was featured in one of the most widely viewed Cuban films, Strawberry and Chocolate. Coppelia is state-run and sells in both Cuban pesos (CUP) and Cuban convertible pesos (CUC). It is the main branch of the national Coppelia chain of ice cream parlors. Coppelia employs more than 400 workers and serves 4,250 gallons of ice cream to 35,000 customers each day.
Coppelia was originally built in a project led by Fidel Castro himself to introduce his love of dairy products to the Cuban masses, creating the Coppelia enterprise to produce those products. The original aim was to produce more ice cream flavors than the big American brands, buying the best machines from Holland and Sweden. Fidel's longtime secretary, Cecilia Sánchez, named Coppelia after her favorite ballet Coppélia.
In April 2012 the Cuban newspaper Trabajadores ran an article exposing the scarcity and poor quality of the product as well as the inattentive service at the parlor, despite the recently completed renovations. Among the problems were broken freezers.
The site of Coppelia Havana was the Hospital Reina Mercedes, functioning from 1886–1954. The hospital was demolished and originally there were plans to build another hospital on the site. The plans then changed and a 50-story skyscraper was to be built on the site, but these plans fell through. A tourism promotion pavilion, Parque INIT, then occupied the site, then the Centro Recreativo Noctural (night-time entertainment center).
Mario Girona was the architect of the new ice cream palace built on the site in 1966. Influence can be seen of the biomorphic modernism of Italian, Mexican and South American modernists like Pier Luigi Nervi, Felix Candela and Oscar Niemeyer, who saw the opportunity to leave behind the rectangular forms of the steel high rises and utllize the plasticity of reinforced concrete. Populist ideology helped shape the design and use of the public space.
The park area surrounding the building features lush groundcover and a canopy of towering Banyan trees which provide shade for open-air dining areas. Curvilinear paths lead to an elevated circular pavilion inside of which the only indoor seating is located.
- Boudreaux, Richard (November 5, 1991). "Culture : Castro's Revolutionary Cry: Let Them Eat Ice Cream!". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 06, 2013.
- Brendan Sainsbury, Cuba (Lonely Planet guide), p.139
- "A California Architect Visits Cuba", Patrick McGrew, KCET-TV (PBS Los Angeles), August 8, 201
- "Coppelia", Frommers
- Sundred Suzarte Medina, "Con bolas huecas no hay jonrón", Trabajadores, April 1, 2012
- Servando González, The Secret Fidel Castro: Deconstructing the Symbol, p.211
- "Coppelia, popular Cuban ice cream, headed to Venezuela", New York Times, March 24, 2012
- "Avanza reparación de la heladería Coppelia", Trabajadores, 2 July 2012
- "Heladería Coppelia", EcuRed (Cuban state wiki)