Schaumburg's El Meson restaurant closing after 29 years
The owners of El Meson Mexican Restaurant, which has stood across from Schaumburg's Town Square for nearly 30 years, plan to permanently close their doors at the end of business on New Year's Eve Monday.
Owner Juan Soto said his decision was based on both his wife Linda's not feeling well this year and the increasing competition in the area.
"We don't have the people like we used to," Soto said Wednesday. "I think there are too many restaurants in the area and they have better locations."
Nevertheless, when word spread of the imminent closing via a posting on Facebook, Soto said the responses of his most loyal customers touched his heart.
"I wish I could stay open when I see that on Facebook," he said. "They like the food here. That makes me very happy."
Soto's wife originally wanted him to close the restaurant back in the summer, and he decided to make it through that season. He then changed his mind and aimed for the end of the year.
Changing his mind again would require at least a conversation with the real estate company he leases from and is unlikely at this point, Soto said. The restaurant business is very demanding and he and his wife feel they've put in their time, he added.
Though the restaurant has a hired accountant, Soto said his wife has always tried to keep an eye on the books, but no longer feels up to it.
Before El Meson opened in 1989, Soto had been working in landscaping. But when he saw the shopping center space available at 34 W. Schaumburg Road, he turned for advice and assistance to his brother, who owns El Molino Mexican Restaurant in Carpentersville.
"I knew how to cook, but the (restaurant) experience came from my brother," Soto said.
He credits his own dedication to quality -- and many of his grandmother's recipes -- for the local popularity the restaurant enjoyed over three decades.
"We tried to cook everything fresh and make it more authentic," Soto said.
But as 2019 begins, he and his wife expect to start a new chapter in their lives.
El Meson will remain open until 11 p.m. on its last day.
Village officials said they had just learned of the restaurant's intention to cancel its liquor license and do not yet know of any specific plans for the next use of the space.