10.18.2005

La Casona Closes


The plight of Juanita Garay caught my attention this summer when the Post's Courtland Milloy published this column. After 26 years in business, she was struggling to keep her second Salvadoran restaurant, La Casona, open. It appears that the columnist's fears were right: La Casona, which was located at 11th and U, is now draped in a sign declaring, "Coming Soon! Lobo's Grill," and all before I ever had a chance to pay a visit.

The new location doesn't seem to be a chain of any sort. Milloy wrote, "the loss of home-style family restaurants like La Casona puts the city at risk of becoming bland, like some of those upscale, concrete egg crate condominiums that have become the new hot thing in town." Perhaps Lobo's Grill will fight that assumption; maybe it won't.

Any readers out there have any fond memories of La Casona or Juanita Garay?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

there was a thread on donrockwell.com about this place

April said...

The food was just OK, but one of the few places in the neighborhood where we felt it was alright to bring a busy baby who loves cheese and avocados. The waitstaff was very patient with him, and the place even attracted decent Latin jazz artists.

Anonymous said...

I am a fan of small family run places, and of hole-in-the wall restaurants that serve good food. I also am a fan of central/south american food. However, even though this place was the closest restaurant to my house for some time, I only ate there 3 times (because I wanted to give it a 2nd, and 3rd chance). I was excited when it opened. However, the menu was very plain, the food I ate was not that good, and the pricese weren't very good. And the fact that they had a big, obnoxious Miller or Bud beer/happy hour banner that fit in with the ugly new Chinese Takeout sign across the street (but not the historic appeal of the nieghborhood) was not very pleasing either. When I wanted Central American food, I would go to one of the MANY other small Central American places in the neighborhood. Although her personal story seems unfortunate, that is what happens to most small business owners in America. I am not sad to see the place change. There are a number of Central American family owned restaurants within blocks of La Casona, and you see a lot of Central American's eating at them. For some reason (maybe the restaurant itself?) those same people weren't frequenting La Casona. The other restaurants are still doing well. Making the arguement that La Casona didn't do well because it wasn't cookie cutter doesn't hold water when you look around the neighborhood, it just attempts to blame the gentrifiers for the failing of a restaurant that couldn't compete with the other Central American restaurants in the neighborhood. La Casona came to the nieghborhood late in the came, probably hoping to capitalize on the gentrification going on, but the gentrifiers, and the Central Americans (who are also gentrifiers in some cases) appear to know where the better home cooking is going on in the neighborhood. Now, the closing of the Southern Fried Fish/BBQ takeout at 14th & U a few years ago, that was a loss. If anyone knows where they went, I'd like to know.

Amanda said...

"Making the arguement that La Casona didn't do well because it wasn't cookie cutter doesn't hold water when you look around the neighborhood, it just attempts to blame the gentrifiers for the failing of a restaurant that couldn't compete with the other Central American restaurants in the neighborhood. "

Excellent point. Thanks for your insightful comments!