If you prefer your latte with a hefty dash of familial drama, Zelma’s Caffe (located at 2661 Broadway, right above 101st Street) may just be your new go-to destination for those morning caffeine cravings. The cozy cafe — which has served a variety of Colombian coffees, croissants and other java joint staples since opening in March 2022 — has found itself in the midst of a particularly nasty case of sibling rivalry.
Here’s what we know so far. In a statement posted to Instagram last night, Alberto Aguilar (who co-owns Zelma’s with his sister, Samantha) thanked customers for their support, noting he “[has] not been around or running things because of the lawsuit and ungrateful situation that was put upon me with my sibling that is there now.”
When we spoke with him directly, he confirmed legal proceedings began once his sister “illegally kicked [him] out” of the coffee shop after he requested access to business-related documents. “I kept the business running at all times. While I was missing time with my newborn daughter, my sister spent all her time at home. The disagreements started when I started asking for my corporation documents, and she would ask me why do I need [them]. I kept insisting and that’s where the fallout started,” Aguilar claims.
The allegations don’t stop there. Reportedly, other legal forces may have been at play. “My sister had me arrested for going into my own coffee shop, and holds power due to her husband being a law enforcement officer,” he also suggests.
Named after his mother and daughter, Aguilar says Zelma’s Caffe was once his dream come true — and now, it’s a nightmare.
“My sister was always someone I’ve looked up to and having to go through this is just bizarre. I was going to stay quiet but I’ve built a relationship with the community and those who visited the coffee shop. I just don’t think it’s fair for [her] to portray that everything is okay when it isn’t. All I want is what I’ve worked hard for — I haven’t been given any profit since July. ”
We’ve reached out to Samantha but were unable to get in touch — we’ll provide updates if we connect with her.