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Cafe Chocobar Cortes Opens Its First Outpost Outside Of Puerto Rico In The South Bronx

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - A family-owned chocolate company has opened its first location outside of Puerto Rico in the South Bronx.

Instead of Midtown, the brand chose Mott Haven to bring its nostalgic brand closer to the people who've grown up with it.

The yellow bar for hot cocoa - Chocolate Cortes - is a household staple at breakfast for Puerto Ricans, and the same company makes "Embajador," as it's know in the Dominican Republic.

The Cortes company was founded in 1929 by Pedro Cortes Forteza. His great-grandson is Carlos Cortes.

"Now it's four generations of us chocolatiers that have been continuing the tradition," Cortes said. "Working in the factory when I was a little kid on the conveyer line, putting the tops on the chocolate powder cans, it's just been part of our life always."

And now he's making it a permanent part of the Bronx.

The Cafe Chocobar Cortes first opened almost a decade ago in San Juan, and now its second location is on Alexander Avenue.

"You see more Puerto Rican flags here, everywhere, than you do any other flag. And yet there aren't enough Puerto Rican establishments or businesses or brands. So I saw a necessity," Cortes said.

"This is a whole turnaround," said Mott Haven resident Veronica Rivera.

The main tradition people have come to know the Cortes brand for is seeing their family members drinking the hot chocolate and then taking cheddar cheese and dipping it in.

"I used to just love eating it like that, and also with these special crackers that we call casco," said Throggs Neck resident Alicia Bellido.

"I drink it every day," said Aurya Serrano.

"I knew this brand from when I traveled in San Juan," said Mott Haven resident Sarah Shah. "I feel like I'm in San Juan right now."

The chocolate is incorporated into most of the cafe's dishes, like the garlic sauce for the skirt steak, the grilled cheese, and even the ketchup for the curly fries.

Cortes wants to support other Latino entrepreneurs. On the walls and some of the packaging are illustrations of La Borinquena, the first Afro-Latin superhero.

"Having book signings at this space, seeing our artwork on display in the café, its something inspiring to me," said author Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez. "They can literally read the stories and events of La Borinquena, talking to them about sustainable farming, about charity work."

"It's kind of your job to share your heritage, right?" Rozner asked.

"It is. To be able to talk about being Puerto Rican, and what it means to me to have the brand, family owned so many years, and it's just amazing. I'm very proud," said Maria Pabon Radix, who works at Chocobar Cortés NYC.

Delicious pride, passed down through generations to come.

The company works closely with Dominican cacao growers to make its products and runs a nonprofit, Fundación Cortés, to promote arts education. For more information, click here.

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