Around 1:45 PM on Wednesday, February 23, the owner of the Germantown Espresso Bar, Miles Butler, noticed that a piece of artwork was missing from outside their storefront. But, this wasn’t just any piece of artwork — it was gifted to the cafe by the late neighborhood artist, Juan “Carlito” Cruz Adames, who passed away August 4th of last summer. He says the painting was there in the morning, but someone must have taken it when they had gone inside to shoot a video.

“He just gifted it to us and then asked for coffee and breakfast,” says Butler recalling the day they received the large canvas from the artist in the late summer of 2019. He says he and his co-owner were both humored and honored. “Juan was just incredibly generous and prolific.”

The owners are not looking to get the police involved over the painting, but they would be ecstatic to have the piece back in their custody — no questions asked. If not, they plan to work with Imperfect Art Gallery to do a recreation, but the piece would be shared among establishments across the neighborhood. The art gallery just finished a memorial exhibition in honor of Adames that ran from December 11, 2021, to February 5 of this year. 

The owners have taken to social media to spread awareness, and neighbors seem just as shocked as the owners. Butler says, “if the community could step up, it would be beautiful,” because the artwork is one of the main ways that his memory lives on. He also says that he understands that a beautiful piece of art can be alluring, but it’s for the entire community to enjoy.

While they await the return of the original artwork, the Germantown Espresso Bar is gearing up to return to indoor seating on March 1st.