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COVID Closures: Mexican Dining Institution El Charro In Lafayette To Close Permanently After 73 Years

LAFAYETTE (CBS SF) -- Popular East Bay Mexican restaurant El Charro in Lafayette confirmed Tuesday that it would be closing permanently after New Year's Eve, according to a Facebook post.

The restaurant on Mount Diablo Boulevard with its trademark serape and sombrero sculpture hanging out front has been serving Mexican food since first opening in 1947, according to the restaurant's website.

El Charro Mexican restaurant in Lafayette
El Charro Mexican restaurant in Lafayette (El Charro/Facebook)

"It is with heavy hearts that we announce El Charro Mexican Dining, a Lafayette community staple of 70+ years, will be permanently closed beginning this Friday, January 1st, 2021," the Facebook post from Tuesday morning read.

"Thank you to everyone for your support and encouragement not only in this past difficult year but for all of the years we have been blessed to share together.

The post was shared widely by the restaurant's fans on Facebook and featured over 250 heartfelt farewell messages.

"Our family felt connected to Lafayette through your restaurant when we moved here two years ago, it was our first meal out when we arrived. We've been regulars ever since," said Walnut Creek resident Rachel Force in a post.

"I'm so sad for this. I've gone to your restaurant for years and have always loved the food and all of the staff. You will be missed," read a post left by Concord resident Marian Urton.

The restaurant was famous for its generous tacos and burritos as well as its garlic blue cheese dip and blended margaritas. It had reopened for take-out meals during the COVID-19 pandemic on May 1 prior to using its patio for outdoor dinning over the summer, but rumors that the building housing the restaurant might be sold surfaced last month, according to published reports.

El Charro co-owner Laura Shields -- proprietor of the restaurant with her husband Dave since 1994 -- said in a November 12 Facebook post that while she and her husband did not own the property that El Charro is part of, they did not plan to close.

"The property owners have not notified us of any sale," the post read. "Our food, our chef, our employees (who are like family to us), remain the same. Until we are notified, nothing has changed."

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Shields said irreparable financial loss due to the coronavirus pandemic was the main reason the restaurant has to close. The couple said they had already used one PPP loan and applied for a second loan, but didn't see a path forward with the looming sale of the property that houses the restaurant.

El Charro will be open for the next two days before closing permanently. To place to-go food orders, patrons can call (925) 283-2345 or visit the restaurant's website.

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