El Burrito Mercado has closed its short-lived Minneapolis outpost.
“With all the unknowns, it’s just too much,” said co-owner Milissa Silva-Diaz. “It didn’t feel like we had a choice. Let’s put it this way: Without the crisis, we would be planning a bangin’ Cinco de Mayo for next Tuesday.”
The Silva family opened the restaurant in August 2018 at 4820 Chicago Av. S., taking over the longtime home of the former Pepito’s Family Mexican Restaurant, which had closed the previous year. The restaurant leased its space from Eddie Landenberger and Ward Johnson, co-owners of the adjacent Parkway Theater.
Johnson said that he likes the synergy of having a restaurant next-door to the Parkway, where people can eat and drink before or after the show. He thinks the roomy space could be an asset if rules allow restaurants to open within social distancing guidelines.
“If the governor does allow restaurants to open, keeping tables six feet apart, my hope is that because the El Burrito space is so large we could find a pop-up that’s looking to get going,” he said.
The Chicago Avenue location was not the Silvas’ first venture outside St. Paul. The family had previously operated branches in Shakopee and at the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis.
Like many food operations, El Burrito Mercado started small, with Mexican immigrants Maria and Tomas Silva opening an 800-square foot market in St. Paul in 1979.
With the help of the next generation of Silvas, the family’s business grew into a West Side landmark (at 175 Cesar Chavez St.), eventually including a bakery, deli, butcher shop, cafeteria-style restaurant, full-service restaurant, buffet, catering operation and import shop.
El Burrito Mercado is currently offering takeout and curbside pickup, including Cinco de Mayo family-style dinner options and sangria and margarita kits.
“We’re trying to make the best of what will be a very different Cinco de Mayo for all of us,” said Silva-Diaz. “We’re all having to adopt the best way we can.”
Staff writer Chris Hewitt contributed to this report.