Castillo’s Mexican Food in the Tower District has closed, a sign with a hand-drawn broken heart posted in its window thanking customers for their patronage.
One of the owners blames a drop in business on crime, saying many of their customers from northwest Fresno said they were afraid to come to the area.
Says Margarita Castillo: “Since all the crime started happening and the bad advertising from the news, business kinda cut down. Though I was still busy, a lot of our client base was in northwest area and they were afraid to come down.”
However, Fresno police Capt. Phil Cooley, of the central policing district that covers Tower, cast doubt on the idea that neighborhood is seeing a surge in crime.
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In the last week, Tower had two car burglaries, compared to 13 in the central policing district as a whole, he said. Also during that time, Tower had no home burglaries while the district had 10.
“There’s been no shootings in the Tower district for at least a month or month-and-a half,” he says.
Tower is more for the younger groups that want to go out and have a good time.
Margarita Castillo, Castillos Mexican Food
Castillo also says lack of parking was an issue and some customers wanted TVs to watch a game. However, she said she wanted to remain a family focused restaurant.
“I’m not a bar, so Tower is more for the younger groups that want to go out and have a good time. I’m not going to put TVs in my restaurants,” she says.
Another Castillo’s location, the Castillo’s Mexican Food on Ventura Avenue, will remain open. Though the restaurants have the same name, they are separate businesses run by different members of the same family.
In the Tower District, a new Mexican restaurant opened two doors down from Castillo’s in the former Meze House Mediterranean Grill spot at 552 E. Olive Ave. El Patio Muy Bueno Mexican Food – El Patio for short – likely provided some competition to Castillo’s, but has barely been open a month. The restaurant serves favorites like burritos, tacos and tortas and old-school dishes the owners say you don’t find very often at restaurants, like carne en su jugo, which is a stew-like dish of beef cooked in its juices with bacon and pinto beans and eaten with tortillas.
If Castillo’s closure sounds familiar, that’s because it has closed before. The restaurant was shuttered in 2015 during a dispute with another renter. It reopened a few months later.
Castillo says she’ll consider opening a restaurant again, likely in northwest Fresno.
“Right now I need to take break from the stress,” she says.