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Business & Real Estate

Estrellita’s back in business : New ownership and lease in place for Los Altos establishment

Photo By: Town Crier
Photo Town Crier

Estrellita’s Mexican Restaurant reopened under new management March 16 after the 55-year-old business shut its doors due to financial woes 10 days earlier. File Photo

A familiar Los Altos restaurant is back in business – a little more than a week after it closed its doors.

Estrellita’s Mexican Restaurant, located at 971 N. San Antonio Road, reopened March 16 after the new ownership group agreed to a lease with the site’s property owner.

The news comes after owner Russell Clark recently told the Town Crier that he was forced to close the restaurant after more than a year of financial troubles. Among other reasons, Clark saw his month-to-month lease payments nearly triple under the site’s new property owner, which led him to fall behind on rent payments. Clark recently settled a lawsuit with the property owner over the missed payments.

Clark received an eviction notice March 6, which forced him to close the restaurant. At the time, he said the restaurant could be revived, noting that an agreement was in place to sell the business to a group that included his cousin, Carlos Corlay. The sale was contingent on the group’s coming to terms on a new lease for the commercial property.

Reached by the Town Crier, Corlay said the restaurant is currently transitioning from Clark to his ownership group, and he expects better days ahead for the 55-year-old Los Altos business. Although customers will notice little to no difference in the restaurant for now, Corlay said his group plans on making “minor” changes once it takes complete control of the business.

“Pretty much everything remains the same right now – it’s just under new management,” said Corlay, a graduate of Los Altos High School’s Class of ’92.

He noted that customers could expect some changes in the decor as well as the food in the near future. The group is currently examining possible upgrades in the restaurant’s menu.

Corlay added that the new management has retained the restaurant’s staff, and he anticipates that the hours and days of operation will remain the same. His group is planning an official reopening celebration in the coming weeks – no date has been set.

Like Clark, Corlay grew up in Los Altos and spent a great deal of his childhood at the restaurant. Their aunt, Nancy Corlay, bought the business from the Bustamante family in 1978.

“She was like a mother to me,” Corlay said of Nancy.

Clark’s mother, Beatrice, served as the restaurant’s manager for 14 years. In 2003, Clark purchased the business from his aunt.

Corlay said keeping the restaurant in the family – and in Los Altos – was paramount.

“I grew up my entire life eating at the restaurant,” he said. “We’re all happy that it’s staying in the family. We’re going to turn it around.”

For more information, visit www.estrellitarestaurant.com.

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