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After being a staple on Las Tunas Drive for 42 years, Casa Del Rey will soon be closing its Temple City location.
With its last day set for Feb. 16, just the Sierra Madre location will remain.
As the Rey family has always owned the restaurant, Donna Rey said her husband Ed has been coming to Casa Del Rey since he was a kid.
“Ed’s parents started the business in 1972,” Donna Rey said. “Ed was 14. He was bussing tables, washing dishes and cooking. Then he grew up to the front desk. Then mom and dad took a step back and the boys ran it. In 1991 we bought his parents out.”
As the family also had a restaurant a while back in Arcadia that closed, Donna Rey said things haven’t been perfect in Temple City for some time.
“Temple City was our mothership,” she said. “She was our original, our bread and butter. But things have changed in Temple City and it’s made us very hard to survive. We’ve been operating difficultly for a long time.”
She added much has changed in Temple City since 1972 that has made doing business difficult.
“The change in demographics was the biggest thing,” she said. “Other cultures don’t dine at Mexican restaurants. And a lot of our clientele from this community has moved east. We lost a lot of clientele.”
With any business change there could be layoffs and Donna Rey said that’s no different for Casa Del Rey. She added the goal is to minimize the number of people losing their jobs.
“We have a lot of employees and this is going to be the hardest thing for us,” she said. “Obviously, we have to eliminate positions. We’re trying our hardest to relocate as many as we can. Ultimately, we have 43 employees, we only need 20 something to operate a restaurant. That’s going to be the hardest part. We need to lay off about 18.”
She also said she is hoping her Temple City customers make the trip up Baldwin Avenue to have an enchilada or burrito.
“Our goal is to get our current customers to travel a little bit north to visit us,” Donna Rey said. “Usually, you’re going to travel one to three miles to your local restaurant. So, it’ll be hard.
Ed Rey said he’ll miss the Temple City location !K but not too much.
“It’s bittersweet,” Ed Rey said. “We’ve run our course down here. I think we’re more than ready to move. It’s weird for me because I’ve been coming down here every day since I was 14 years old. It will be a little difficult. As we get closer and closer I’m more ready.”
(Shel Segal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org).