The day of reckoning is near for El Patio, Anaheim's beloved Mexican restaurant. With plans approved in January to demolish the shopping center where it stands, the hole-in-the-wall has to be out by April 26. But fret not, El Patio faithfuls: The Anaheim staple (since 1977) has found a new location just a half-mile down the street and will be reopening in May!
"It's going to be bittersweet," says Douglas Molina, vice president of El Patio. "We're going to move because we have to move. It's a sad day but we have to go forward regardless."
All of the shopping center's small business owners got their 30-day notice to vacate last week. It's the first Molina's heard from his landlord in about two years. Unbeknownst to tenants, owner Kathy Watson and Frontier Real Estate plotted the razing as early as September 24, 2014 according to documents obtained by the Weekly.
Since then, the property's gone to holy hell even more than before with Watson getting a notice from Code Enforcement about violations as late as mid-December.
The demolished strip mall on the city's west side will be rebuilt with a McDonald's atop the rubble of El Patio. (Give me an El Patio's carne asada burrito over a McBurrito everyday of the week, twice on Sundays!) A nearby Rite Aid store in Buena Park is moving next to it. The restaurant knew its time was coming soon thanks to its customers.
"Workers from Rite Aid were coming to El Patio to eat and said they'd be relocating here by October, no later than November," Molina says.
Only three other storefronts have relocation spots lined up and the famed Glo Room ain't one of them. The rest of the small business owners are panicking to find something soon. The city didn't help El Patio in that regard but did kept their promise by streamlining the permit process.
The restaurant's new digs will be at 2662 West Lincoln Avenue in Anaheim. The vacant space they'll be setting up shop at used to be home to Papa's Fish & Soul Food, a Weekly favorite for its soul food burrito, which closed late last year. The space is bigger than the tiny spot El Patio is at now, but that's the only change promised.
"If it ain't broke don't fix it," Molina says. "With the new place I'm going to keep everything the same."
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2