PORTLAND, Maine — The owners of El Rayo Taqueria announced their plan to close Sept. 30 and move the restaurant from its York Street location as the property owner pursues a residential development for the site.
“For the last few years, we’ve been working closely with developer J.B. Brown to try and find a suitable place to relocate the restaurant,” Tod Dana, co-owner of El Rayo, said in a news release Tuesday. “One of our challenges is to find a location with significant outdoor seating; our customers really enjoyed that on York Street, so that’s our goal. But we do plan to open again in Portland soon.”
The restaurant said it plans to close in late September, after an event it’s calling a “Farewell Fiesta” on Sept. 26 and 27.
The move comes weeks after J.B. Brown submitted plans to Portland’s Planning Board for a five-story residential and commercial complex on the 17,000 square foot lot. The application, submitted Aug. 14, states the first floor would be commercial space with 63 residential apartments on the top four floors.
J.B. Brown also seeks to build a two-level parking structure with 211 spaces, located behind the other building.
The developer said it plans to contract for design and construction of the building with Belmont, New Hampshire-based Opechee Construction Corp., which also built the development at 209 Fore St. that houses a Hampton Inn, residential condos and Sebago Brewing Co. It has also worked on the Marriott Courtyard at 321 Commercial St. and an office building at 68 Marginal Way, according to the application.
El Rayo opened at its York Street location in May 2009 at what was previously a gas station. The owners also had opened and later closed a neighboring restaurant called El Rayo Cantina.
The restaurant has been faced with uncertainty over its lease for years. Vin Veroneau, president of J.B. Brown and Sons, told the Bangor Daily News in May 2014 that the development of a residential building and adjacent three-story parking garage “depends on the approval process and the right economic conditions.”
“Clearly a restaurant in an former gas station is not the highest and best use of that property,” Veroneau said.
The owners converted a former Cumberland Farms convenience store on Route 1 in Scarborough into their second location last year.
BDN writer Kathleen Pierce contributed to this report.