Usnavi de la Vega tells children the story of Washington Heights. Usnavi owns a bodega, and introduces: Abuela Claudia, the matriarch of the neighborhood who raised him; Kevin Rosario, who runs the taxi company; Kevin’s employee, Benny; the salon ladies Daniela, Carla, and Cuca; Vanessa, Usnavi’s love interest; and Usnavi’s cousin Sonny, who he employs.In the Heights 2021.
Alejandro, Usnavi’s attorney, informs Usnavi that his late father’s business in the Dominican Republic, which Usnavi dreams of reviving, is for sale. Meanwhile, Kevin’s daughter Nina returns from Stanford. After a quick reunion with Benny, she goes to find her father and tells him that she was unable to pay tuition, but he brushes her off, telling her not to worry.
Daniela’s salon will soon be moving to the Bronx due to rising rent. Nina arrives for a treatment, but reveals that she has dropped out of Stanford, and leaves. Vanessa submits a rental application downtown, where she dreams of becoming a fashion designer. She is unable to provide a good credit check and her application is rejected. Disappointed, she heads back and drops by Usnavi’s bodega, where Sonny asks her out on Usnavi’s behalf.
Sonny learns a lottery ticket the bodega sold won $96,000. Usnavi and the rest of the neighborhood fantasize about what they would do with the money, while the Piraguero laments how Mister Softee is stealing his business. That weekend, Benny and Nina reminisce about their childhoods. She expresses her doubts and fears, but he reassures her that she is destined for greatness. Meanwhile, Usnavi talks to Sonny’s father about letting him go with him to the Dominican Republic, but Sonny’s father says he and Sonny are undocumented immigrants and cannot leave.
That evening, Kevin reveals he sold his business to pay for Nina’s tuition. Outraged, Nina refuses the money and storms out. Usnavi and Vanessa head to the club for their date, along with Benny and Nina. At the club, Usnavi is nervous and aloof, and Vanessa dances with other men, making Usnavi jealous, so Usnavi tries to make her jealous in return. The power goes out, and Sonny and Graffiti Pete light up fireworks, illuminating the neighborhood. Vanessa and Usnavi argue, and she angrily rejects him.