On Tuesday, a day ahead of Puerto Rican international sensation Bad Bunny’s sold-out World’s Hottest Tour show at the Ring Central Oakland Coliseum, the buzz on social media was about the superstar’s visit on Monday night to Puerto Rican restaurant Sol Food in San Rafael, with an entourage of 80 people

The restaurant’s Instagram account shared a selfie that Bad Bunny took with some employees in the kitchen, and the post quickly spread, amassing over 5,000 likes and a steady stream of comments. Some wondered whether he would also stop by a restaurant in Oakland. 

While people on social media were sharing Sol Food’s Instagram post, Jose Ortiz, owner of Puerto Rican restaurant La Perla in the Dimond District, was also getting messages from customers asking why Bad Bunny had not stopped by the restaurant. 

Then, on Tuesday afternoon, he got a call asking to reserve tables for 14 to 16 people. “The group was celebrating a birthday, and they brought a big cake that I put away for them. They were a lovely group.” 

It turned out to be Bad Bunny’s dancers who travel with the artist during his world tour. Initially, Ortiz had no idea. But it didn’t take long for his family members who work at the restaurant to put two and two together. It’s not every day, said Ortiz, that a large group of Puerto Ricans visit the restaurant.

Bad Bunny’s dancers with La Perla’s owner Jose Ortiz. Credit: Jose Ortiz

Ortiz only recently reopened indoor service at La Perla, which for months had only been offering takeout and use of its outdoor parklet due to the pandemic. Bad Bunny’s dancers, he said, preferred to eat outdoors. 

After they’d finished, Ortiz invited them inside to see the space, where the walls are decorated with photos and letters from other Puerto Rican celebrities that Ortiz has cooked for. As a result of the visit, he’ll soon have another to showcase.

On Wednesday morning, the restaurant’s Instagram account shared a photo and video of Ortiz with the group.  “When they left, they were so happy,” said Ortiz.

Ortiz said he would have loved for Bad Bunny himself to have stopped by the restaurant but understands how the megastar’s busy schedule might not have allowed for it.

Nonetheless, the dancers’ visit to the restaurant provided it with a definite boost. “On Wednesday, the restaurant was full all day with people stopping by to eat before the show,” he said. “Their visit really gave us a huge push.” 

Ortiz and his family were grateful to have serviced the artist’s crew and, like a lot of Bay Area fans, headed out afterward to the Coliseum on Wednesday night for the show.

The biggest Coliseum crowd in years

The stadium hadn’t seen such a crowd since Game 5 of the 2013 American League Division Series when the Oakland Athletics lost to the Detroit Tigers 3-0. The only empty seats in the Coliseum at Wednesday night’s sold-out show were those in “Mount Davis,” the 20,000-seat upper-deck area built in 1995 at the urging of former Raiders owner Al Davis, which was situated behind the main stage.

Before the show, massive lines flowed into the Coliseum from all directions. The scene inside was crammed with concert-goers of all ages, many likely visiting the Coliseum for the first time. The food and drink lines were a frenzy, with fans hurriedly purchasing items before attempting to locate their seats.

By 9:30 p.m., Bad Bunny took the stage and delighted his loyal fanbase with over two hours of music. He performed 36 songs, including many from his latest album, Un Verano Sin Ti, and a medley of songs from his older discography, among others. Fireworks, lasers, and flames shooting upward from the stage punctuated the performance throughout the show. Fans who’d taken BART to the show and stuck around until the end of the encore missed the last train. 

View of the sold-out show from the second deck. Credit: Azucena Rasilla

Having one of the world’s biggest artists play at the Coliseum was significant for the city. Bad Bunny’s newest album has spent 10 weeks at number one on the Billboard 200, and he’s been the most-streamed artist in the world on Spotify for two years running. His performance comes amid a flurry of other notable shows at the arena-coliseum complex. In September, Kendrick Lamar played back-to-back shows at the Oakland Arena. On September 30, Oakland-born singer Kehlani will also be taking the stage at the arena. That show is expected to sell out

For Ortiz, the fact that Bad Bunny chose Oakland for his Bay Area performance is a point of pride, and he’s thrilled that the artist is elevating Puerto Rico and its people. He’s also grateful that Bad Bunny is using his platform to give greater visibility to local businesses. 

“Other artists don’t do that, and they don’t realize how much it means to local business,” Ortiz said. “It gives me joy that he takes time to visit. It wasn’t my time this time around, but I know he’ll be back in Oakland soon.”

Azucena Rasilla is an East Oakland native, a bilingual journalist reporting in Spanish and in English, and a longtime reporter on Oakland arts, culture and community. As an independent local journalist, she has reported for KQED Arts, The Bold Italic, Zora and The San Francisco Chronicle. She was a writer and social media editor for the East Bay Express, helping readers navigate Oakland’s rich artistic and creative landscapes through a wide range of innovative digital approaches.