WEST TOWN — After seven years in West Town, a family-owned Mexican restaurant is closing its doors.
El Metro Café, 1959 W. Chicago Ave., will close Sunday. Customers can order food and drinks through the weekend and shop an “indoor garage sale,” which includes the owners’ furniture, jewelry, bags, artwork and other items.
Neighbors are also invited to a goodbye party on Sunday with live music and $2 tacos.
Sisters Veronica and Betty Romo live in West Town and have worked in the restaurant industry for 14 years. They described closing the restaurant as a “happy” change in their lives, as they’re embarking on new careers.
“This is a happy thing,” Veronica Romo said. “We just wanna say ‘thank you’ for all the years you supported us, letting us be part of their parties and their stories. Thank you. We are so happy to be part of this community.”
While El Metro is closing, the neighborhood will gain a new Mexican restaurant in its place, Veronica Romo said. The sisters sold the business to Taco Bros, a family-owned restaurant chain with locations in River West, 833 W. Chicago Ave., and in suburban Oak Park.
“The corner will stay Mexican,” Romo said. “That’s good for the neighbors.”
El Metro was the sister restaurant of Gaudi Café, 1147 W. Grand Ave., also in West Town. The Romo sisters opened Gaudi Café in 2009 then El Metro in 2014.
The restaurants were inspired by the culture of Mexico City, the hometown of the Romo sisters.
The sisters said they’re excited to start the next chapter of their lives. They’re working for 36Squared Business Incubator, a Chicago nonprofit helping small business owners navigate zoning, permitting, licensing and other city issues.
“Now we’re able to help business owners,” Romo said. “It’s a great business, but it’s hard. It’s a lot of stuff we gotta know. … We’re so excited and happy and proud. So blessed.”
The pandemic was tough on El Metro, Romo said.
Before March 2020, El Metro served 500-600 catered lunches daily in Merchandise Mart and in The Loop. When office workers began working remotely, El Metro lost its catering business.
Allowing carryout liquor helped revenue tremendously, but margins were still tight. Earlier this year, burglars stole El Metro’s ATM and cash register.
The sisters called the sale of the business a “blessing,” and they hope to see as many neighbors as possible before Sunday’s closing.
“So many businesses closed in 2020. They disappeared. They don’t have a chance to say ‘bye,'” Veronica Romo said. “All our friends are coming to say ‘bye.’ … We are very lucky. We are hard-working women. We’re Latinas, not from here. We rocked it. We did it.”
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