A UC Berkeley employee approached the Gordo Taqueria storefront expecting to eat lunch at the restaurant, and she was both shocked and crestfallen to see it closed. “En serio?” she asked, when she learned that Gordo’s Telegraph Avenue location had closed.
The taqueria located at 2404 Telegraph Ave. closed Saturday — an event that sits heavily on the hearts and stomachs of campus students and staff alike. There will soon be a Mexican-Central American fusion restaurant to fill that void, however.
Gordo first opened on Clement Street in San Francisco in 1977 and now has six locations across San Francisco, Berkeley and Albany. Closing its Telegraph Avenue location narrows the spread down to five physical restaurants and four for online ordering.
Angelica Hernandez, the general manager for Gordo on Telegraph Avenue, said the restaurant is closing because both rent and competition are high.
This is the story for many businesses in the Telegraph area. Gordo’s former neighbor, The Melt, closed earlier this year because of insurmountable competition.
Because of the variety of food available, students have options, allowing them to demand both quality and low price points.
Campus senior John Yip referred to Gordo as “another option to Chipotle.” He said Tacos Sinaloa, a neighboring restaurant, has the best burrito in the area, but Gordo was a close second. Regardless, he said he is sad to see Gordo go.
Hernandez’s managerial background fostered a deep pride in the restaurant — she referred to Gordo as “our little baby.” Gordo has been at the the Telegraph Avenue location for eight years — 20 years less than at its other locations. Hernandez said that from the start there were high expectations for its success.
For the time being, Gordo is working on relocating staff from its Telegraph Avenue location. Some of the staff members have been with the business upward of 20 to 30 years.
Hernandez said Gordo may try to open another location outside of Berkeley with a different business model that includes third-party order apps. The Gordo tradition will stay the same, however — its menu has not changed since the 1980s.
While Gordo’s closure may be a loss for many burrito-loving community members, it leaves an opening for the venue’s next manager chef James Liu. Liu is the executive chef for Crowne Plaza Hotel in Foster City.
Liu’s restaurant, unnamed until it is registered with the city of Berkeley, will serve bowls, burritos and tacos. The restaurant, which will open Oct. 1, prides itself in its cochinita pibil, a traditional Mexican pork dish that is made by slow-roasting meat wrapped in a banana leaf. The restaurant will offer patrons options ranging from fresh seafood to vegetarian dishes.
While students will be able to discover a new food option in the Telegraph area, restaurant managers will still need to learn how to cultivate customer loyalty. “As a business, it’s tough,” Hernandez said.