Cafe Milton’s Cafe
1119 Jefferson St, Hoboken, NJ 07030
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.
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.
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.