The El Torito restaurant inside the Dana Point Harbor will close its doors for good after 39 years in business. Its last day will be Wednesday, Jan. 3, according to an employee at the restaurant.
“The whole harbor is being redeveloped, so there was no offer of lease renewal,” explained Randy Sharpe, president and CEO of Xperience Restaurant Group, which owns the Mexican casual dining chain. “So, it was pretty simple.”
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Staff at the decades-old restaurant will be able to work at one of Xperience Restaurant Group’s other restaurants, a portfolio that, in addition to El Torito, includes Chevys Fresh Mex, Sol Mexican Cocina, Acapulco and Las Brisas. “We notified our employees in advance and offered them employment at any of our other fine restaurants in the general area if they’re interested,” he said.
SEE ALSO: Here’s what the $450 million renovation of Dana Point Harbor will look like
In five years of business, this will be Xperience Restaurant Group’s second restaurant to close; the group shuttered El Torito’s Orange location in June. “We’ve opened nine new restaurants in the last 18 months, so we’re definitely focused on any potential growth that’s out there,” said Sharpe when asked about the possibility of reopening in the harbor’s next iteration. “It’s a little bittersweet, but beyond that, you know, the harbor needs to be redeveloped. I wish Burnham Ward Properties all the success in the world with their new project.”
Opening in April 1985, the Dana Point Harbor’s El Torito — popular for its weekly Taco Tuesday happy hour and views overlooking the harbor’s boat slips and jetty — was a staple inside the bustling maritime attraction.
SEE ALSO: El Torito in Orange is closing its doors after 33 years in business
The entire Dana Point Harbor is currently in the middle of an ongoing $450 million overhaul, which will add new hotels, parking structures, restaurants, architecture and landscaping to the 52-year-old harbor.
Burnham Ward Properties — part of the real estate development group tapped to lead the redevelopment of Dana Point Harbor’s commercial properties — was unable to provide comment as to what, if any, eatery might replace the nearly 40-year-old El Torito.