Miguel Amadeo speaks about Casa Amadeo and how it has survived COVID-19. Photo by Jason Cohen
Casa Amadeo thrives during COVID-19
Owner of Longwood Latin music shop starts selling guitars during pandemic
BRONX TIMES R 4 EPORTER,OCTOBER 2-8, 2020 BTR
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BY JASON COHEN
Miguel Angel Amadeo, better known
as “Mike” Amadeo, owns the oldest Latin
music shop in both the Bronx and all of
New York City.
The shop was founded in 1927, fi rst located
in East Harlem at Second Avenue
and 116th Street. Victoria Hernandez and
her brother Rafael took over the store in
1941, when it moved to 786 Prospect Ave.
in Longwood. Originally dubbed Casa
Hernandez, Amadeo bough the shop
in 1969 and renamed it Casa Amadeo,
antigua Casa Hernandez.
Amadeo, 86, a renowned musician,
has survived a lot, including the era
when “the Bronx was burning,” 9/11 and
the recession. But unlike some less fortunate
businesses, his shop is thriving
When the pandemic arrived he closed
until June, but since reopening business
has been booming. Guitars have been fl ying
off the shelves, which is bringing in a
great deal of money.
“It’s better than selling records to tell
you the truth,” he explained. “Nobody
wants to buy records now because you
can download everything. In order for
me to make that profi t that I make off one
guitar I’d have to sell 200 or 300 records.”
At age 14, Amadeo left Puerto Rico
and traveled fi ve days by boat to the
United States with his mom Vicenta.
His older brother was already living in
the states along with his father Alberto
Amadeo, who had left his mother when
he was a baby.
His dad was a prominent Puerto Rican
composer and singer and that year,
he met him for the fi rst time.
“Everybody knew my father because
he was one of the big time musicians in
New York,” Amadeo said.
Amadeo lived in The Barrio throughout
high school and at 15, his cousin Tony
gave him a guitar for Christmas. From
then on, he was hooked.
He never took lessons and taught
himself how to play. In 1951 he was living
across the street from a record shop, Casa
Latina, a famous place in The Barrio and
got a job there making $2 an hour.
“Being there, I would make new
friends,” he said. “Those friends were
guys making music in New York.”
At 16 he began recording songs and
once of legal age, was jamming out in
nightclubs and bars. While he only performed
for a decade, he wrote more than
250 songs and had a profound impact on
the Latin music industry.
After being drafted and serving in the
U.S. Army, he worked at Alegre Records
at 8522 Westchester Ave. for 10 years. It
was there where he learned how to run
Eventually, he heard Casa Hernandez
was going to be sold and seized
“I said I’m willing to buy you out, you
can’t close this place,” he recalled. “It
was right there when my life began to
More than fi ve decades later he is still
the proud owner of Casa Amadeo. He recalled
how he withstood the fi res when
the Bronx was burning and at that time
had no running water.
Over the years he has seen businesses
come and go, yet his store always
remained. At its peak, Casa Amadeo was
a place where musicians and composers
would fl ock.
In 2014, the corner of Logwood Avenue
and Prospect Avenue was renamed
Miguel Angel “Mike” Amadeo Way and
was listed on the National Register of
Historic Places in 2001.
Looking back on life, he is happy
and wouldn’t trade places with anyone.
Amadeo and his late wife Maria put their
sons Tomas and Miguel through college
and never borrowed money.
Though well into his 80s, Amadeo
said he has no plans to retire.
“I’m going to die right here,” he said.
“Music is my life. You know what’s nice?
I was able to do this without going crazy
and doing the wrong things.”