El Mezon del Cobre will close its doors on Sept. 30 — 23 years after Consuelo Medina served her first Mexican seafood dinner in the nondescript adobe building on North First Avenue and East Fort Lowell Road.
Medina made the announcement in a Facebook posting late Monday afternoon.
Medina decided to close her restaurant after losing her building last month to the bank, said her son Octavio Castaños
Medina’s health also played a role in the decision. Last April, she was involved in a car accident on the city’s south side that left her with serious injuries to her shoulder and knee that will require surgeries beginning next month. She said it has become difficult to keep up with the physical demands of running the restaurant.
“The doctors told me when I get my surgery I will have to be off my feet,” she said. “I’m alone. I don’t have anybody.”
Medina has run the restaurant for years with some help from Castaños, 24. But her son has no interest in taking over the business. Instead, he is considering going to graduate school and pursuing teaching, he said.
Medina was a single mother of three — Castaños was just 6 months old at the time — when she opened El Mezon, which was little more than a hole in the wall.
“When I first opened, I was the only” Mexican restaurant on North First Avenue, Medina said Monday night after the last customer had left. “I had 11 tables when I opened in 1990. I was leasing the place. It was me and only a few employees. I worked in the kitchen, I worked the register, busing tables. I did everything.”
Over the years, Medina bought the building at 2960 N. First Ave. and expanded the restaurant to 100 seats. She added the bar and rolled out an extensive tequila menu that includes Milagro, Blanco, Patrón, Sauza, Don Julio and El Tesoro that are mixed in margaritas, dunked in icy Mexican beer or enjoyed by the shot. Medina’s menu is a mix of classic Mexican fare — burritos, tacos and enchiladas — with an ocean’s bounty of seafood dishes.
The restaurant has been a neighborhood fixture since those early days, a place where families gathered for anniversaries, birthdays and baby showers.
But in recent years, the economy took its toll. Castaños said his mother had been negotiating with the bank for months to keep her building, but last month the building was sold from under her at auction.
“My God, it is so hard for me” to close, Medina said.
Medina said she might consider opening a restaurant in the future, once her shoulder and knee heal.