Sol y Luna Taqueria, a Mexican restaurant known for its handmade tortillas, closed its Downtown Berkeley location Sept. 14.
The restaurant, previously located at 1926 Shattuck Ave., has been open since 2008. Owner Kamran Nassiri said he closed the restaurant because of its inability to generate a steady stream of customers. This led to financial complications as the business was unable to make enough money to maintain quality service, Nassiri added.
“It never really picked up,” Nassiri said. “Revenue was much lower than it was before, so we closed down mostly because of money.”
Nassiri added that the restaurant had regular customers — whom he called “diehards” — who came every day, but Sol y Luna had a difficult time attracting new customers.
Kevin Keefe, an employee at neighboring business Triple Rock Brewery & Ale House, also noticed the sparse number of customers entering the restaurant.
“I ate there a few times and thought the food was pretty good, but every time I went, there was only a table or two besides me,” Keefe said. “I couldn’t imagine they could sustain a business with that kind of traffic.”
According to Nassiri, it was difficult to adjust to the customers who would order from their own home because of the commission rates required from delivery services such as UberEats.
Nassiri added that delivery companies would take a 20 percent commission off of each order, and he said other restaurants are impacted by the high rates as well.
“People were not coming in but instead ordering food for delivery,” Nassiri said. “People are asking to eat at home.”
Nassiri kept Sol y Luna open for an “extra two years” so that the employees could keep their jobs, he said. He employed a family to run the restaurant, and they worked “really hard,” Nassiri said.
Customers considered Sol y Luna a family-owned restaurant, according to assistant manager and cashier Cristin Ortega, who said he ran the restaurant with his parents.
“I worked here for seven years and I really did enjoy it,” Ortega said. “It was great working here. I am really sad about this place closing down. Even though it was my job, this was definitely my second home.”
According to Nassiri, another restaurant serving Thai cuisine will replace the empty facility. He is unsure of the restaurant’s name.
Customer Quoc Bao Raphael Tran was also saddened by the news and said he reached out to Sol y Luna employees to understand why it had shut down.
“I feel terrible that Sol y Luna is closing,” Tran said in an email. “I’ve been going there since they’ve opened and they’ve reliably had very good food at a very good price … Recently, I would order to pick up around 4 p.m. for my train ride back to Sacramento. It was probably the most delicious meal on the train going home.”