Beloved Ashland restaurant re-opens after months of closure

Ashland, WI
Ashland, WI(KBJR/CBS3 Duluth)
Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 5:22 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ASHLAND, WI -- The restaurant formerly known as “El Dorado” re-opened its doors Monday for the first time since May 2021, now under the name “El Tarasco.”

The restaurant was successful before the pandemic but couldn’t stay afloat when forced to move to a takeout-only model.

“It was hard to see something that you built just to see it go under like that,” said owner Jose Alvarez. “We never thought that COVID was going to take that long… [We thought] it’s was going to be a few months and then we’ll be back up and running.”

Alvarez said by the time he thought to request pandemic-related aid, the window was closed.

Unable to maintain staff, the restaurant closed its doors indefinitely.

“Nobody was really coming out. To us, it was hard,” Alvarez said.

“I was very concerned [they might not reopen],” said regular customer Sam Boutwell.

Alvarez described the closure as a sad experience for himself and the community he had come to know and love.

“When you run into people at stores and people say, ‘Hey, what’s going on? Are you going to open back up?’ Every time I heard that [it hurt],” he said.

Alvarez was finally able to hire enough staff to reopen, and Monday, with no promotion or notice to the public, the restaurant reopened its doors; this time renamed “El Tarasco.”

Word spread quickly and by dinner time the restaurant was packed.

“The guys were like, ‘Wow, is it like this every day?’ I said, ‘pretty much,’” Alvarez said.

He said it felt like no time had passed since they closed their doors.

“It wasn’t new customers. It was our regulars, You know, it was the same faces I’ve seen over the years,” he said.

The customers were also happy to be back at the restaurant.

“It’s been so long; it tastes so much better!” Boutwell said.

Long-time patrons like Boutwell said it is a good feeling to see the community once again packing the tables at the restaurant.

“We’re used to eating at a basic American restaurant. This gives us a chance to eat something that’s a little different,” he said.

Alvarez said the collective show of support from the community and a successful reopening helped him feel right back at home.

“I’ve been here 14 years. Like I said I created not just a customer base but a friendship. I live here. This is my home,” he said.

“El Tarasco” hopes to move to a new location closer to downtown sometime next spring.