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Last La Mex restaurant to close its doors this weekend

Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 5:30 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The last of the La Mex restaurants is getting set to close its doors. This Saturday will be the last day the longtime Mexican restaurant will be open to the public.

For owner Trina Johnson, the move is bittersweet.

“One moment I’m crying, really sad. And the next day I’m excited because I feel like the next step may be something different,” she said.

Johnson put the restaurant up for sale during the pandemic. She said the mandated restaurant closures left her wondering about the future and whether she would be able to pay her bills.

“That unknown was very stressful, and this is a very large building,” she said. “The taxes, the utilities, the amount of labor it takes to run it. I just knew it was not feasible for me to continue, with seeing what could possibly happen.”

Johnson feels she made the right decision. Still, she worries about her employees, many of whom have worked for her for years.

“I have employees who have been here since they were teenagers and now they have grandchildren,” she said.

It’s the main reason Johnson has decided to find another, smaller space to open a new La Mex restaurant. This time, she’ll be offering her longtime employees a chance at co-ownership.

“Knowing there’s a future and it involves them and includes them as being part of it, that’s the only reason that I’m probably able to keep it together,” she said.

Johnson said she hasn’t found a new location yet, and may be open to new construction. In the meantime, her building is being sold to the owners of the Moose’s Tooth and Bear Tooth restaurants. The closing date is June 10, according to owner Rod Hancock.

They plan to open a restaurant very similar to the Moose’s Tooth at that location, some time in 2022.

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