A new LGBTQ+ café arrived in Hoboken back in April. Uncle Milton’s Café, a shop with a specific dedication to being LGBTQ-friendly, according to its owner, had its grand opening on April 30th and has been proudly serving the Hoboken community ever since. The shop is located at 1119 Jefferson Street, which was formerly When in Rome pizzeria. The café serves coffee, breakfast, sandwiches, and provides catering services — and many have seen the owner, Milton Canales, dancing to music outside of his store. Here’s what we know about this LGBTQ+-friendly, Latinx-owned café.
(Photo credits: @unclemiltoncafe)
What We Know
After immigrating to Long Island from El Salvador at age 10, owner Milton Canales soon got his first job as a dishwasher at a restaurant. Having been a lover of food from a young age, his early work experience led him to various delis and coffee shops before he knew he wanted to pursue this passion on his own — so he began a catering company. He built up a list of loyal clients, cooking meals in their homes since he didn’t yet have a storefront or designated kitchen. After nearly 20 years doing catering, he decided to follow his dream of opening his own café — and Hoboken seemed to be the perfect home for this.
“This place in Hoboken, I was like wow, this is perfect, this is what I need,” Milton told The Hoboken Girl. “I love Hoboken, it’s a very nice town, people are friendly, a lot of young people from NYC live in Hoboken, it’s very LGBTQ friendly.”
Of course, an LGBTQ-friendly spot was essential to Milton, as this is a pillar of his new business. He wanted to create a space where absolutely everyone would be welcome. His vision was to bring a small café to Hoboken as a way of fostering community, particularly for LGBTQ diners. Identifying as a gay man himself and having experienced adversity, Milton wanted to create a safe and welcoming space where LGBTQ diners would never have to feel uncomfortable or ashamed.
“Coming from Central America, especially El Salvador, and being gay… it’s been really, really hard for me,” Milton told HG. “I would love to have my LGBTQ community come into the shop, relax, have their coffee, not be afraid of anything or be ashamed, it will feel like their home.”
Milton added that the café is, of course, open to everyone, but he particularly wants it to be a safe space for his fellow LGBTQ community members. The shop’s black and pink awning proudly displays a rainbow pride flag to symbolize its inclusive and welcoming atmosphere.
The name of the business — Uncle Milton’s Café — comes from one of Milton’s loyal catering clients, who said his children grew up loving Milton and felt he was an uncle to them. This persona of being everyone’s ‘uncle’ was exactly the vibe Milton wanted for his new business — thus, Uncle Milton’s Café was born.
Milton hopes his story will uplift and inspire young LGBTQ members in the Hoboken community.
“I always knew that I wanted to have something of my own and encourage people,” Milton said. “A small café owned by a gay guy who came to this country when I was 10 years old as an immigrant and made it from the bottom to the top.”
Milton continued, “[I want to] encourage the young LGBTQ people that, you know, if they have goals, they can do it. All you have to do is work hard.”
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The café serves a variety of light eats including breakfast sandwiches; specialty coffee drinks such as espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes; and cold cut sandwiches with grilled chicken and roasted vegetables. Of course, Uncle Milton’s also serves also plenty of homemade desserts: banana pudding, chocolate chip pudding, homemade brownies, and homemade cookies, to name a few. To top it off, Milton doesn’t serve any fried food — everything will be either baked or grilled. Milton is especially excited to serve what he thinks is his best dish — his guacamole.
“I make the best guacamole you can ever try!” Milton told HG. He shared that diners can expect to see this delicious guacamole featured on the menu as guacamole toast with a fried egg.
Milton will also continue to offer catering services, and based on the café’s new Instagram page, the catering menu has previously included pastries, shrimp, burgers, pasta salad, quesadillas, and other hors d’oeuvres.