A few weeks ago, the Santa Maria Times and the Adobe Press ran this article by Todd Cralley, on the closure of Paco’s Restaurant, as well as an interview with the owner, Flo Beeson, pictured below. (Photo by Santa Maria Times photographer Mike McAndrew).
Yesterday, Paco’s came down. Below are a few photos of that demolition, which is part of the new Village at Nipomo project:
For more photos on the demolition you can see them on my Flickr page here. Click on the thumbnails, and then you can further enlarge them by clicking on the “all sizes” icon at the top. The Paco’s article follows:
Longtime customers bid farewell to Nipomo restaurant
By Todd Cralley/STAFF WRITER
It was evident in their faces, genuine sadness as their eyes moved about the room, taking in the faded Polaroid photographs that cover the walls, then refocusing as Flo and Lesley zipped around from customer to customer with heaping plates of food and warm smiles.
That sadness during Friday’s lunch rush soon gave way to nostalgic grins evoked by a cherished memory of a first date, a special birthday or anniversary celebration – or a friendly face and a “Hi, how’ve you been?” or an “It’s good to see you.”
“I’ll be back tonight and I’m bringing an entire box of tissues with me,” one woman said before she walked out the door.
One of Nipomo’s most loved eateries closed its doors Friday night – all in the name of progress.
Paco’s Mexican restaurant will be bulldozed early next week, according to Flo Beeson, who has owned and operated the popular establishment for the past 14 years.
The restaurant’s demise is just the beginning of changes to the West Tefft Street corridor and the widening of Mary Avenue.
Knowing that this day would soon come, Beeson had tried to prepare herself for her last day of business, but that didn’t make it any easier for her and her staff.
“The emotions didn’t hit me until today,” she said. “Poor Lesley had a spell of it earlier, too. She’s wonderful. Her loyalty can not be surpassed.”
Lesley Kearney has been Beeson’s manager and head waitress for 10 years. That kind of loyalty is matched only by Duane Langstaff, Paco’s kitchen manager since the restaurant opened its doors 14 years ago.
“I could not have done it without Duane,” Beeson said. “He’s been with me every step of the way.”
Beeson has known since March that the building was set for demolition. She accepts the fate of the place she’s poured her life into at the corner of Mary Avenue and Tefft Street for more than a decade.
“It really is an old building,” she said. “We understand it’s old and worn out and has to come down. The plumbing is bad and the electrical, too. You can’t slam the back door or the concrete will hit you on the head.”
Despite all of the building’s shortcomings, Paco’s strength has been the relationship between the staff and the customers, which was helped by a family-friendly atmosphere with a menu full of great food.
“It’s been lots of fun, it really has,” Beeson said. “I can’t imagine having better customers. We’ve seen them have their babies and now they’re teenagers.”
Sisters Cate and Jenna Johnson of Nipomo said Paco’s holds a very special place in their family’s hearts.
“This is very emotional for us,” said 25-year-old Jenna. “We’ve been coming here since it opened. Every Saturday after church, Christmas Eve dinner, sometimes twice a week, for 14 years.”
Cate, a 22-year-old student at UC Santa Barbara, also said that the family has known since March that their favorite restaurant was closing.
“I live in Santa Barbara,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for the call to come home,” as her eyes refocused on the wall across from her table. “We have at least five pictures (of family members) hanging on the wall. I’ve found a few, and I know there’s more up there.”
Todd Cralley can be reached at 347-4580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 30, 2007