Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, so will the El Conquistador Mexican Restaurant, which was destroyed in a fire May 15.
The owners of El Conquistador, Tiburcio and Socorro Mora, have agreed to a three-year lease to house their restaurant in the Sunnyside mini-mall. Yesterday (Tuesday), the Moras received the keys and will soon be preparing the restaurant already in the building for a re-launch within the next five weeks.
To the family, it's a relief.
The fire that destroyed the El Conquistador and the Safari Restaurant this month left the Moras devastated.
"We lost everything," Jose Mora, the son of Tiburcio and Socorro said. "There were a lot of memories there."
The Moras opened El Conquistador in 1994, when the family moved to Sunnyside. For the past 18 years the eatery has been a staple in Sunnyside. That all changed on May 15.
"It was very sad, there were tears all around," Jose Mora said.
The fire happened on a Sunday, but by the following Tuesday the family sat down and decided what to do next. The thought of taking a break never entered their mind. They were thinking of their customers and the nine employees affected by the loss. The Moras wanted to get their restaurant up and operating again as soon as possible.
That's when a mutual friend brought together the Moras and Bill Flower, owner of the Sunnyside mini-mall.
"I think this is going to be a nice partnership," Flower said. "We have waited a long time for a nice restaurant to come back to the mini-mall.
"I'm very sorry about the fire, but we're looking forward to a very long relationship."
The opportunity couldn't have come at a better time for the Moras, who say they are very happy and excited to be moving into the mini-mall.
"We have much thanks for Bill," Jose Mora said.
The old restaurant on Edison Avenue could seat up to 200 customers. The Moras are losing a bit of seating at the mini-mall, with seating available for 120 people, but they are gaining much more parking space that will allow for customers to have an easier time finding parking.
Although the restaurant is closed for now, El Conquistador's catering side is still open, thanks to offers from other merchants, like Navarro's Community Center, which have offered use of their kitchen facilities. People wanting to hire the catering company can call Jose Mora at 840-9228.
In the meantime, the family will be working to get the mini-mall restaurant operational. The family lost everything in the fire. New dishes, glasses and silverware will need to be replaced, as well as the decorations that give El Conquistador that special feeling.
The plan is to open back up within the next five weeks, but that depends on how much work needs to be done.
As for the Mora's property on Edison Avenue, that's still up in the air. The family will have the next three years to decide whether to rebuild on the original site or stay at the mini-mall.