Casa Amadeo, New York’s Oldest Latino Record Store’s Success is Thanks to 90-Year-Old Owner’s Secret Formula
Miguel Ángel ‘Mike’ Amadeo is a living legend in Latino music, and his legacy in New York City is priceless. At 89 years old, he insists he’ll never retire from a career that has brought him so much joy and satisfaction.
In an interview with mitú, the entrepreneur and owner of Casa Amadeo music store since 1969, shared his secret formula for keeping the doors open, even as the business model has changed and records don’t sell like they used to.
“My formula is a promise I made to myself that I’ll only leave this place [the store] to the cemetery,” he said.
He added, “I’ve been in music for almost 74 years, and it’s given me a fantastic life and the chance to support my family. I don’t think about retiring, and I’ve never talked about it; I’ll leave here when God takes me.”
Despite being almost 90 years old, Amadeo is on a mission to bring music to every corner of the world
Amadeo is the epitome of a hard worker. Six days a week, he runs his store, working eight hours each day. He’s going to be 90 in May 2024. After his wife’s passing, he cooks his meals and lives independently.
For him, his family, and his two sons, writing songs and selling records are his driving force and inspiration to keep getting up and bringing music to customers worldwide.
As reported by ABC, a decade ago, the City Council recognized his contribution and named the corner of Prospect Avenue and Westchester Avenue in his honor, ‘Miguel Ángel Amadeo Way,’ right in front of the store.
When people visit his shop, Amadeo wants them to leave with “a memory of someone who has proudly elevated the name of Latinos, especially my people from Puerto Rico.”
The Puerto Rican composer arrived in the United States as a teenager who loved music from a young age
He came from Bayamón, Puerto Rico, in 1947, also known as ‘el pueblo del chicharrón’. At just 13, he was a student passionate about music, singing, playing bongos, and percussion.
Soon after, a cousin gave him a guitar as a gift, and he taught himself to play. By the age of 16, he was recording his first song and collaborating with artists of the time.
His passion continued to grow, materializing when he began working at a music store.
The business was inspired by his father, who worked in the arts from an early age
As a high school student, the artist frequently visited a store called Casa Latina near 110th Street by Park Avenue.
“I would leave school at, for example, 3 in the afternoon, and by 4, I was there listening to music. As they noticed my talent, the owner, Bartolo Álvarez, opened his doors and let me work part-time. I earned $2 weekly,” he remembered.
He recalled that famous artists and composers gathered at that place, taking photos with them. That’s where the inspiration for his business was born.
For him, his father, Alberto ‘Titi’ Amadeo, was also his driving force. He was a renowned composer and the author of the famous song “Bomba carambomba.”
“Music was in my blood; it was there for me, and all I had to do was take advantage of the fact that people recognize my father everywhere,” he concluded.