El Sereno community rallying to save Eastside Cafe autonomous center

EL SERENO, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Eastside Cafe has been a staple in the El Sereno community for 15 years, but its future is in jeopardy after its property was sold.

The autonomous collective serves as a community center teaching music, jujitsu, yoga, English classes for Spanish speakers and much more. The co-op founded by several community members offers its services for free.

"The children here don't get opportunities to become the musicians and artists that they can become and so we provide that opportunity," Roberto Flores, co-founder of Eastside Cafe said.

But the free services could be forced to go away after the property owner where Eastside Cafe is located put the land up for sale. A buyer was in escrow, but Eastside Cafe founders managed to persuade the buyer to give them a chance to buy the property instead, and he agreed.

"He said, 'Look, I'll give you 10 days for you to gather up your support and buy the place," Roberto Flores said.

Eastside Cafe has until Sunday to raise $240,000. A GoFundMe page set up for their effort has brought in just under $30,000, even after larger donations from musicians including Aloe Blac and Maya.

Members of the community were also dropping off cash donations to fight what they call the gentrification of El Sereno.

"They're providing a service to the community here that's invaluable. You can't replace that," said Angelo Luchi, a South Pasadena business owner.

If Eastside Cafe managed to raise the money and buy the property, it vowed to keep rents affordable for the businesses already in place.

"It's really important that we keep these local businesses, that we're not evicting them, that no one is evicting them, that we keep the essence of the community here," said Angela Flores.

Eastside Cafe will stream a telethon to collect donations on Facebook Live on Friday.
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