Bethany Clough

Downtown chain restaurant closes. Behind-the-scenes troubles could be to blame

El Torito restaurant in downtown Fresno has closed, with a notice posted on its door Monday, Oct. 29, 2018.
El Torito restaurant in downtown Fresno has closed, with a notice posted on its door Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. Fresno Bee

The downtown El Torito has closed – and the struggles of its parent company could be to blame.

el torito sign.jpg
This sign was on the door of the downtown Fresno El Torito restaurant Monday, Oct. 29. Bethany Clough Fresno Bee

The restaurant at 2840 Tulare St. closed suddenly, a sign on the door saying: “We have closed this location and apologize for any inconvenience.”

No one from El Torito or its parent company was immediately available to comment, but the restaurant’s troubled owner has been closing locations around the country for years.

El Torito, Chevys Fresh Mex and Acapulco Restaurant y Cantina are all owned by Cypress, California-based Real Mex Restaurants. The company has filed for bankruptcy twice in the past six years.

The Chevys at River Park closed in December 2016 and its replacement, Texas de Brazil, opened last week. Fresno once had an Acapulco restaurant on Blackstone Avenue but it closed years ago.

El Torito’s parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August. It blamed financial losses, and a failed effort to buy another company, among other reasons.

Another company bought Real Mex Restaurants during the bankruptcy for $47 million. It did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Real Mex had 128 locations in 2012 but was down to 68 recently, according to the website Restaurant Business.

The Fresno El Torito closure follows news that another downtown restaurant, Tree of Life, is moving to north Fresno.

Still, several new restaurants have opened downtown recently: Toshiko Japanese Cuisine, Ohana Pantry, Nevera Juice Bar, Chicken King, USBean Brew Station, On A Roll Sushi at Mezcal Lounge and Cookies N’ Things.

The Fresno El Torito is one of two restaurants flanking La Quinta Inn & Suites, along with IHOP, and is close to Highway 41 access.

As recently as 9 a.m. Sunday, the Fresno El Torito Facebook page was posting about its food. However, in the comments someone running the Facebook page acknowledged that the restaurant did close “some locations.”

More than a dozen El Torito locations are still open in Southern California.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough