EAST VILLAGE — A family-owned trio of Mexican restaurants that operated on the same Ashland Avenue block for decades — all with the same name, La Pasadita — is now down to just one.
"You add up the numbers ask what are we doing, holding onto sentimental value? It didn't make sense to have two businesses so close, so I'm creating a little more demand with just one," said second-generation owner David Espinoza.
Earlier this month, Espinoza closed La Pasadita at 1132 N. Ashland Ave., which opened in 1991. That shuttering follows the closure two years ago of the original La Pasadita at 1141 N. Ashland, which opened in 1976.
Alisa Hauser explains why one location is closing:
A third La Pasadita, which was the largest of the three spots when it opened in 1984, remains in business at 1140 N. Ashland Ave. It is not closing, Espinoza said.
Though a handwritten sign in the window says that the restaurant at 1132 N. Ashland Ave. is temporarily closed, Espinoza confirmed on Thursday that it has closed permanently.
While both La Pasaditas were busy on weekends, Espinoza said business was not what it used to be, and the weekday lunch crowd was "nonexistent."
Espinoza owns the building, located just south of Division Street, and is debating whether or not to rent it out.
"I'm in thinking mode. We have been talking about what to do with it, maybe bring in a retail store with the flavor of the Milwaukee and Damen area coming over to Ashland and Division," he said.
Espinoza's father, David Espinoza III, who died in 1994, started La Pasadita when David Espinoza was 10.
When people approached the walk-up window, they could be heard saying, "The bus is coming!" so his father was inspired to finally christen the small shop.
"Pasadita," according to Espinoza, "means to come by quickly, like a quick stop. That's where [my father] got the name."
Espinoza said that the closure of the third La Pasadita resulted in just one layoff because he transferred everyone to the last remaining location and shifted hours around for the team of 12 to 15 workers.
Food evidently runs in the family, as all four of his siblings, including his brother Danny Espinoza, who helps to run the Ashland Avenue spots, also work in the restaurant business.
Rosa Bucio, his sister, runs Las Asadas at 2045 W. Western Ave. with her husband.
Alicia Espinoza, his other sister, runs La Palapita at 4263 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Portage Park.
Rene Espinoza, David's brother, owns LP Express, an acronym for La Pasadita Express, which has two locations on the North Side.
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