Mexicali Rosa’s closes its doors again

Daniel MacEachern
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George Street restaurant ‘didn’t take with the market,’ owner says

Mexicali Rosa’s on George Street in St. John’s has closed. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

About a dozen Mexicali Rosa’s employees are out of work after the restaurant closed its doors Wednesday.

Franchise owner Matthew You-den of Moncton, N.B., — who reopened the George Street restaurant late last year, after taking over the shuttered location from previous management — said the location never got the business it needed in the downtown to stay open.

“We’re not quite sure (why),” said Youden. “We reopened the store and cleaned it up, and it just didn’t take with the market, and that’s pretty much the gist of it.”

Between 12 and 15 people work at the location. Youden said staff were notified Wednesday by the general manager. Asked if employees would be given severance or help to find new employment, Youden said they’re still working that out.

“It’s still very early, to be honest with you. And we want to make sure, we obviously would love to see all of our staff in new jobs and taken care of,” said Youden. “We very much want to do our best to help them out, but obviously for me to comment on that, I’m not able to.”

Youden said it’s a “difficult day” for the restaurant.

“It’s a tough thing to have to do, but unfortunately sometimes there’s just no other choice,” he said.

Twitter: TelegramDaniel

Geographic location: George Street, Moncton

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Recent comments

  • Not satisfied
    November 27, 2012 - 14:53

    My husband went at lunch and they took 2.5 hours for lunch. Really slow getting food. The food was, "nothing special". They offered a discount and were suppose to send a gift certificate. A phone call it remind the manager and still no gift certificate. So I guess I can stop waiting for that!!

  • sillee newfeez
    November 26, 2012 - 11:08

    " Does any aspiring business person in Newfoundland have any more creativity than to simply dole out the horrendous franchise fee to set up another monotonous, repetitive, bland chain store?" Restaurants are a horrible investment. With a few exceptions, they're typically opened by the entrepreneurial types who don't have the background to open much else. High fixed costs (rent, equipment), high variable costs (food, booze, staff), and the "well done steak" food culture of NL means it's a silly business for someone to open. Owning property on George Street is a good investment. Paying the massive rents to try to eek out a profit selling natchos is a bad one.

    • david
      November 27, 2012 - 16:01

      Correct. But I would quibble with the qualification of such people as "entrepreneurial types". They are mostly financially clueless dreamers. The entrepreneurs are the ones coming up with the franchising ideas and pawning them onto dupes & this subset of oil-influenced Newfies who are just slightly more advanced than "lotto tickets" with their get-rich-quick thinking. Funny. And sad. Quiznos anyone?

  • Pam
    November 26, 2012 - 09:19

    How do I go about the groupon refund?!

  • SC
    November 23, 2012 - 10:24

    Everything went smoothly and your Groupon has been refunded. Order summary: Your order placed on September 19, 2012 $20 Groupon Subtotal $0.00 Groupon Bucks Refund: -10.00 Total ($10.00) Groupon advised that they refunded $10 to my credit card within 3-4 hours. I personally liked Mexicala Rosa's food and wish they were still open - they were my preferred Mexican restaurant - everything considered. I believe some legitimate points were made - and there can always be more behind a business decision than we know. & we do know that real estate in the downtown goes for a high price these days. I think Mexicala Rosa's is popular in many areas beyond NL.

  • SC
    November 22, 2012 - 14:36

    GROUPON REFUND LINK FOR CLOSED MERCHANT - DETAILS THROUGH I just e-mailed them a copy of this newspaper article - they are supposed to get back to me within 24 hrs. In the past, they did refund my money in another situation - where merchant was closed for an period of time near the expiration date. (The merchant later extended the groupon date - after I made my concern known - but I had had my refund by then). At any rate, they say Groupon says it guarantees the original amt paid - so contact them.

    • david
      November 22, 2012 - 17:12 THAT was a stroke of genius as a publicly traded company! Almost as shrewd as all those fast food chains as income trusts...ooopppss!

    • Brian Mallard
      November 22, 2012 - 19:16

      Went there last year for a meal prior to hockey game. Service was pathetic. Took over an hour for our wings. When they did arrive they were not what we ordered. The entree left a lot to be desired. Dried up burger and soggy fries. Went to another hockey game last week with future son in law with supper downtown before the game. We did NOT go to Mexacali Rosa's. There's an old saying, "Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice shame on me." In order for a business to prosper customer service is paramount. Good customer service wants me want to return. In this case it did not. I feel for the staff. Good luck to them. They are seldom to blame.

  • waste if money
    November 22, 2012 - 12:27

    i remember going there an ordering the nachos there, it cost 18 dollars and we only have 12 nacho chips on the plate .. glad it's shut down, horrible place

    November 22, 2012 - 12:24

    What a shame, I loved that restaurant for the food and for the great atmospere. I'vent know it when it was "bad". All I can think of is the good food, the good non-alcoholic cocktails and good times that I had there. I must admit that, like William, this summer I have beensomehow annoyed by the taxi lined up smokes but that hasn't stopped me from coming back because there is soooooo much more that I like about this place. Someting important that I should mention is that Mexicali's Rosa has been part of my life over these past 6 months ... I was going almost every Sundays to "The Sunday Salsa Social at Mexicali Rosa's" organized by Salsa Floreo and I'm gonna definetly miss dancing there :-( Good luck to the owner(s) and staff :-)

  • david
    November 22, 2012 - 11:41

    Here's a about something a little more imaginative and appealing to the consumer than yet another, third-rate fast food franchise in a badly congested bit of DT real estate? Does any aspiring business person in Newfoundland have any more creativity than to simply dole out the horrendous franchise fee to set up another monotonous, repetitive, bland chain store? Is this 1970?

  • Jack
    November 22, 2012 - 11:24

    Since other Mexicali Rosa's locations in Atlantic Canada have done very well, but not in St. John's, I think the St. John's location was a victim of incompetent management, poor location, restaurant not locally owned and managed since the franchise owner is not from Newfoundland and Labrador, and inability to deal with the taxi parking problem. Now is just of another popular restaurant not seeing its light of day in most or all of Newfoundland and Labrador along with Harvey's (hamburgers are better than McDonald's anyday, but no locations in this province), Taco Bell, Swiss Chalet, Pizza Hut, and now Mexicali Rosa's.

  • Tommy Toe
    November 22, 2012 - 11:22

    Refund for Groupon ?!?! Hahahahahaha ! Maybe they will give you some Groupon Stock!!!! Thanks for the laugh!

  • Employee
    November 22, 2012 - 10:41

    As an employee of Mr. Youden, I know he isn't worried about our job prospects. We were notified Wednesday morning, after the restaurant was cleaned out the night before. We were left unemployed overnight with no notice or warning and have heard nothing about severance pay or payment for our last week. Thanks for deserting your employees for the holidays!

  • William
    November 22, 2012 - 09:39

    Mr. Youden, in my experience the downfall of your Restaurant was the parking of the Taxi cabs directly outside your front patio doors. My friends and I went down to your facility during a beautiful evening this summer. We all agreed that the food and decor was fantastic. All the staff we encountered where very professional and we enjoyed out late supper.... Then the Taxi Cabs started to line up right outside your patio deck. The smell of exhaust and cigarette smoke coming from the lined up taxi cab and drivers made us leave your establishment within 5 minutes. We never returned for that reason. We asked one of your staff members why the taxi cabs could not line up on the other side of George Street. We were told that the City would not permit it and that you have lobbied the City Council on many occasions. Don’t blame your staff or your fantastic menu, blame the Taxi fumes. It is for this reason that none of the 12 patrons in my party ever returned.

    • Rob Hartwell
      November 22, 2012 - 10:23

      Why didn't you just eat inside next time William? Jeez by, doesn't take much for you to avoid a place. Mexi's had terrible food and it's about time it is closed for good. Hopefully Mustang Sally's will fit into that spot, I miss that place.

  • Me
    November 22, 2012 - 09:27

    Just my opinion, but I think if they had changed the name of the restaurant it may have made a difference. If I remember correctly there were some troubles there in the past with the previous owners, I don't remember what exactly. Even though the place was cleaned up well and had a new owner some people don't get may have stayed away because of the history. Good luck to the owner and staff.

  • david
    November 22, 2012 - 08:39

    Another fascinating story on the commercial dynamics of turbo-charged St. John's. Yawn.

  • Nancy
    November 22, 2012 - 08:05

    I've purchased a Groupon for the. Have they advised how they will provide the refunds???

  • Brad
    November 22, 2012 - 07:34

    A bit of advertising wouldn't have been a bad thing. I went downtown about a month ago and my girlfriend didn't even realize nor heard that they reopened.

    • Vickey
      November 22, 2012 - 10:18

      They did advertise, on various occasions. They cannot go around to every household to ensure everyone has heard the announcement.

    • Brad
      November 22, 2012 - 13:17

      Where? When? How? I read the Telegram almost every day, have the radio on at work and never once did I hear anything for Mexi's. Many of my friends were a little surprised to see it was reopened too...says something I'd think..

    • Bob Butler
      November 22, 2012 - 14:06

      I manage a local website that advertised and caters to the entertainment industry of bars, bands, restaurants etc... we approached them and offer them our basic $1 a day advertising plan for new business, and they told us they don't advertise... Meanwhile Zapatta's have been using us for over two years.

      November 23, 2012 - 07:55

      They had a sign out on the TCH near Soldiers Pond I think...