After a tumultuous history, local Mexican restaurant Fiesta Cancun in South Bend has closed.
Owner Jose Felix Ramirez said the restaurant closed about two weeks ago and as of Thursday the once intricate and colorful interior of the Mexican restaurant on the south side of town was destroyed, along with furniture and kitchen shelves placed near the dumpster outdoors.
Ramirez said he had no plans to close the restaurant, but the owners of the property at 4502 S. Michigan St. sold it to make way for new development.
“We hadn’t planned to close; the owners just got a good offer for the building and he sold the property,” Ramirez said. “It might be a gas station or something big, but it won’t be a restaurant anymore.”
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According to the St. Joseph County Assessor’s Office, the deed for the southeast corner of Ireland Road and Michigan Street was signed on January 28 by South Gateway Holdings LLC at 4502 S. Michigan St. LLC and sold for $2.75 million. A representative for South Gateway Holdings said he was not at liberty to disclose what would become of the property, but would forward The Tribune’s investigation to the owner, who is currently out of state.
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Fiesta Cancun opened its South Bend location in 2016, transforming the old Hibachi Grill building into an authentic Mexican restaurant filled with hand-carved decor depicting stories of Mexican heritage.
However, the restaurant has faced a slew of penalties and health violations during his tenure, temporarily closing a month after it opened, and was placed on probation in early 2020 after the health department discovered multiple critical violations in two separate inspections prompted by customer complaints.
In June 2021, the restaurant was again temporarily closed for health code violations which Health Department Food Services Director Carolyn Smith said fell under the categories of improper employee hygiene and unsafe food temperatures. . Days after being closed, the restaurant reopened after passing its follow-up inspection “with flying colors,” county health officer Dr. Bob Einterz said in June.
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In an interview Thursday, Smith said the restaurant’s permanent closure was news to the health department and that a recent inspection “to my knowledge has nothing to do with their closure.” Ramirez also said previous health issues were resolved and not related to the shutdown.
Now, Ramirez said he’s “done with the restaurants,” citing staffing issues and the stress of their operations.
“I get tired in restaurants,” he says. “We’ve had a lot of complications with the kitchen, wait staff and worked so much over the past six years, so I don’t want any more restaurants.”
Contact Mary Shown at 574-235-6244 and [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @maryshownSBT and @marketbasketSBT.
This article originally appeared on South Bend Tribune: Fiesta Cancun at South Bend closes to make way for development