Grande Bakery and El Pollo Norteño, Legendary Mexican Restaurants, Closed by Santa Ana via Eminent Domain

Multiple generations of Mexican families have sworn by the masa of Grande Bakery, off Grand Street in SanTana, open since 1951 and the second-oldest remaining Mexican eatery in Orange County. They were drawn by their pan dulce and tamales and champurrado and tortillas. And when they were done with the compras for the day, they’d walk down the strip mall to El Pollo Norteño, one of the first Mexican charbroiled chicken restaurants in Orange County when it opened for business in the early 1980s. They were both grand places worthy of their address, and it’s a damn shame that I have to write about them in the past tense. See, this week is the last week of business for the both of them, as the city of SanTana is pushing them out via eminent domain to demolish them and widen Grand Avenue.

The Orange County Register, which is just up the street from the two businesses (quick thought: why doesn’t the city eminent domain the Reg out of business instead?) has done a great job of covering the closure of the two restaurants, and I’d link to their stories except you can’t read them because of that darned paywall. But what you should know is that the city is singing a tune of wanting to help each spot open while simultaneously low-balling them on the money they’re legally obliged to give them. The family behind Grande Bakery is taking the city to court, and we’re wishing them well in their fight, but it’s nevertheless a tragedy, as they’re not planning to open again.

Man, why can’t the city eminent domain the Reg instead?

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