After 73 years, Lafayette’s El Charro restaurant is permanently closing

Dec. 31 is your last chance to get that famous blue cheese garlic dip and skinny margaritas.
El Charro Mexican Dining, the Lafayette restaurant where generations of Lamorindans have celebrated anniversaries and birthdays alongside massive burritos, is closing after 73 years.
Owners Laura and Dave Shields made the announcement Tuesday via Facebook, and within three hours there were nearly 200 comments from heavy-hearted regulars.
“I’m sad. I’m sorry. God bless your family,” wrote one customer, Jennifer H. “What a tremendous restaurant experience you provided so many grateful families.”
Top fan Robert S. posted a collage of family photos taken at the colorful restaurant over the years.
“Thank you El Charro for over 40 years of great food, drinks, and most of all, great memories,” he wrote. “From special occasions to no occasion other than craving some ‘crack dip,’ you filled our bellies and our hearts, always made us feel welcome and like family, no matter how loud we got…”
The decision comes five weeks after rumors started circulating that the building housing the restaurant was going to be up for sale. A representative of Garcia Family LLC, a group of 10 who own the Mt. Diablo Boulevard property, did not immediately respond to a message regarding the property. But, in an email to the East Bay Times, Laura Shields says the group plans to sell.
“They are waiting for some legal dealings to finish up and then they will list it,” she said. “They were kind enough to give us an opportunity but the building needs major repairs and the property is $7 million.”
But irreparable financial loss due to the coronavirus pandemic is the main reason the Shields are being forced to close. They used up the first round of their PPP loan and applied for the second round, but with the inevitable sale of the property looming, they didn’t see a way forward, Laura said.
“We had still planned on bringing all of our employees back. Now, I need a job,” she said. “We have no backup. We put everything we had and taken loans to keep going. We did it for our loyal customers and our incredible employees. We would have stayed shuttered if it were not for them.”
Dave, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2013, is no longer able to work and Laura has done all she can to save the eatery Frank and Wilma Garcia opened back in 1947, she says.
While no recipes will be shared, Laura says she is hoping to jar and sell that blue cheese dip.
El Charro remains open for takeout Dec. 30 and 31. To place orders and enjoy a final meal, call 925- 283-2345 or visit www.elcharrolafayette.com.Related Articles

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