El Amigo Pepe to close, go mobile
Published 10:19 am Thursday, July 23, 2015
On a seemingly normal Thursday last month, one of Niles’ most popular restaurants put a surprising piece of information on its Facebook page.
The owners of the family-run El Amigo Pepe Mexican restaurant said they would be closing their doors at the end of the December in order to focus solely on catering and running a concession stand.
Owner Jose “Pepe” Mendez said it was a difficult decision, especially since the community has shown them so much support in the eight years that they’ve operated out of their location at 1140 S. 11th St.
“We want to thank the good people of Niles, who have been great to us — especially the cops,” said Mendez, explaining that Niles police are among their most loyal and frequent customers.
The good news for El Amigo Pepe lovers is that they will still have an opportunity to find their favorite food.
In addition to offering catering, Mendez said his family is in the process of finding a place in Niles to set up a mobile concession stand once or twice a week — likely on Fridays or Saturdays. They are currently soliciting suggestions on their Facebook page and will let people know if and when they find one.
People can also find El Amigo Pepe at events across the Michiana area, including county fairs in Van Buren, Cass, Berrien and Oceana, the Four Flags Area Apple Festival, Red Bud Race in Buchanan, Niles Bluegrass Festival, Niles Burn Run and at Big Bear Auctions in Eau Claire, to name a few.
Mendez’s daughter, Gabriela, who manages the restaurant, said the restaurant is still doing great business.
“We wanted to leave with a kick — make sure our customers are leaving with a good memory,” she said. “We really care for the people of Niles because they have been so good to us.”
Jose said the decision to go mobile has been five years in the making as he and his wife, Ana, desire to spend more time with their growing family (including new grandson Leo).
Gabriela thinks it is a good idea.
“Everyone wants to spend more time with mom and dad,” she said. “We want to enjoy them while we have them.”
El Amigo Pepe will post what events it will be at on its Facebook site.