Opened by Joe Minjares in 1971 as Old Colonial Pub & Pizza, the south Minneapolis restaurant would become a Mexican institution at 48th Street and Chicago Avenue. On Sunday, in the wake of Minjares' recent health issues and a lost liquor license, Pepitos closed up shop for good.
Minjares posted a heartfelt farewell to his neighbors, customers, and employees via Facebook. In it, the beloved proprietor fondly remembers the moment his wife, Sue, suggested they invite Minjares' mother to make tacos at the Old Colonial, thus giving spicy life to the Pepitos concept.
"To all the generations that didn't get a chance to eat mom's cooking ... believe what you hear about it," he writes. "You don't know what you missed!"
You can read the entire post below.
So, will the former Pepitos space soon house a new Sonora Grill, as rumored by Heavy Table? Unclear! This much we do know: There's a pending sale for the Pepitos and adjoining Parkway Theater properties, both of which were listed by Minjares for a combined $1.5 million asking price.
"Those first few months of business were pretty sparse," Minjares writes. "Sue and I would spend many evenings eating our own food and watching television.
I remember I'd buy a few steaks from Dealers market down the street and at 8:30 p.m. I'd run into the kitchen and put them on the charcoal broiler, get our baked potato, and we sit and watch a new show called "Saturday Night Live" and wouldn't be disturbed through the whole hour. Then Sue said, 'Why don't you have your mom make some tacos?' I was a little skeptical but said okay. A few days passed and now it was Sue, Mom, and I eating steaks on Saturday night
But then, YOU, came. I asked, YOU, if you'd ever tried a taco. YOU said no and I gave YOU one. The next week YOU came back and asked for another one but this time YOU brought a friend. Then your friend brought a friend. Then they brought their families. That's how it started for us.
But it all started with YOU. So thank YOU. I can never, ever thank YOU enough. To all of YOU I send my very best wishes for a great new year. To all the generations that didn't get a chance to eat mom's cooking ... believe what you hear about it. You don't know what you missed!
Love Sue, Joe, Mama Lupe, Grandpa Bob, Grandpa Ben, Uncle Carlos, Grandma and Grandpa Rodriguez, Aunt Rosie, Aunt Linda, Aunt Millie, Aunt Evelyn, Brother Bobby, Sisters Liz, Starr, Alycia, Uncle Jess, Uncle Rick, Dick Martin, Brother Jack Dahlquist, Sister Dee Dee, Mama Irene, Aunt Mary Lou, Cousin Mike Rodriguez, All the other extended Rodriguez family, Willie Dominguez, Louie Dominquez, Larry Hansen, Billy Irvine, Larry Hendrickson, Johnny Rea, and all my friends and families from the neighborhood ... Adios"
"A special thanks to the crew that saw it all to the end. I told them we were closing and there were tears. I told them that if they went out and found other work that Sue and I would understand. None of them left. They stuck by me until the bitter end. I love you guys forever.
Thank you too to the 10,000 and 1 employees who helped write the history of Pepitos. We made some mistakes along the way and parting with you was not always a happy one. But I always respected your efforts. Our philosophy was simple, hire people who were happy. People who had distinct personalities and points of view. people who you'd like as a friend, take them under your wing and invite them to be part of the family."