Taqueria La Bamba evicted, La Costena relocates

Epicenter of burrito scene to be replaced with new building

After a court dispute with an affordable housing developer over relocation expenses, Taqueria La Bamba is being evicted this week from its longtime location at 2058 Old Middlefield Way.

Owner Leo Munoz said that ROEM development corporation Eden Housing -- the affordable housing developers the City Council picked to build 48 studio apartments on the site -- backed out of a deal to help relocate the taqueria last week. A ROEM official denied Munoz's charge.

"I can tell you our goal has always been and still is to relocate 100 percent of all the tenants fairly and under the requirements of the project," ROEM's Derek Allen said Monday.

The City Council had required that ROEM also relocate 48 apartment residents and several small businesses, including another popular taqueria, La Costena, which re-opened a few weeks ago at 235 East Middlefield Road, near Whisman Road. Both La Costena and La Bamba have held the title of "best burrito in Mountain View."

"We've been in business for more than 25 years," said Munoz, who also owns two other La Bamba taquerias in Mountain View. The restaurant he's losing is the original location and "our money maker," Munoz said. He said the two other locations have been kept short-staffed in order to absorb the displaced employees.

Munoz claims that in late November ROEM backed out of a deal to compensate La Bamba at the last minute. Munoz said La Bamba has a lease for the site until 2023, and ROEM is expected to provide a new space for the taqueria on the site on the first floor of the new affordable housing project.

"The La Bamba relocation, that's more complicated as a result of the lease provisions he entered into with the previous owner," Allen said.

Allen said it was unfortunate to see a press release Munoz sent out last week about the conflict. "We've never backed out of any final deal," Allen said.

Munoz said ROEM had offered $265,000 in relocation expenses and $300,000 to install tenant improvements in the new building, but backed out at the last minute in court. A judge "didn't allow some information to be presented which messed up our case," Munoz said. "We lost whatever leverage we had against ROEM and Eden."

The most difficult thing about the eviction is "the amount of money that we're losing," he said.

"The downtown location isn't doing that well. One location pays for the other location. Our main source of income is actually gonna get shut down," he said. "The amount of money they are offering doesn't resemble the amount of money we are losing."

"They want us to come back but we have to spend money on improvements, we don't have that money," Munoz said. "We have zero money to come back. To start from scratch costs $400,000."

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3 people like this
Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Jackson Park
on Dec 5, 2013 at 11:43 am

Best of luck to these two fine taquerias in their new locations!

3 people like this
Posted by Sad
a resident of Whisman Station
on Dec 5, 2013 at 2:33 pm

I am saddened to see LaBamba's original location close. I go there all the time. They are much better, IMHO, than La Costena. I sure hope they find something soon but I really wish LaBamba had relocated to Whisman instead.

I hope this story is updated when they do find a new "home"

4 people like this
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm

I have been to the old location many, many times. I never go to the downtown location.

Yet another victim of government-enforced "affordable housing".

3 people like this
Posted by habanero
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Dec 5, 2013 at 3:20 pm

[Post removed. Please no personal attacks.]

3 people like this
Posted by incognito
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 5, 2013 at 3:57 pm

From this story you can't tell who to believe, the developer or the taqueria owner?

Agree with Jay Park, do hope these 2 businesses continue to thrive in whatever location.

@habanero, what makes you so suspicious about people paying income taxes? making "millions of dollars" running a taqueria? cars and kids? that's a pretty broad and negative generalization about business owners, developers, and anyone works on Wall Street.

viva La Bamba! viva La Costena!

3 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Dec 5, 2013 at 4:15 pm

I too will miss La Bamba in its original location. It served great food at reasonable prices. But they have opened on Shoreline a couple of blocks away with some of the same people and the same great food.

Wow habanero, where did the anti-business vitriol come from? You sound like a republican talking about Obama.

3 people like this
Posted by neigbor
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Dec 5, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Sorry, my bad. The new La Bamba location is on Rengstorff not Shoreline.

580 North Rengstorff Avenue
Mountain View, CA 94043

3 people like this
Posted by Maher
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Dec 5, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Maher is a registered user.

Oh Brother! Sounds like another Yes but No fraudulant process designed to diminish public awareness and oppostion to a choosen project for "progress" in MV.
The failed "agreement" sounds verbal not written and the City Council and city clerk's office has a long history of this sort of nonsense with MV citizens and small business vs big business dynamics.
I like La Bamba and it is a long standing tradition in our community. But what the hell difference does that make?

Now watch to see how they reneg on Rose's market and the other small businesses impacted by the Castro street development in that area.

This is really infuritating and just too predictable.

3 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 5, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Maher, you said it all. This whole thing is so ridiculous that it's hard to believe. But it's what we have representing the big business and developers in this town

3 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2013 at 6:59 am

Viva La Bamba! visit them at their new(er) location, same great people and great food. Rengstorff and Middlefield.
No, I'm not connected with them other than as a regular patron.

3 people like this
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 6, 2013 at 9:40 am

Yeah, I go to the new location on Rengstorff. It doesn't have the charm of the old place, but it will do. At least there are plenty of tables and a salsa bar.

3 people like this
Posted by Burrito-eater
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 6, 2013 at 10:20 am

Both of those places were excellent places to eat and part of Mountain View culture that made it what it is today,

It's too bad that the way the system works right now the politicians and the judges decide, not the public screwed over by their "decisions".

4 people like this
Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 6, 2013 at 11:37 am

As today's editorial points out, this building has several code violations. The owner chose to go with affordable housing and a little retail. If a business is sustainable, it can survive at a new location like La Costena.

3 people like this
Posted by LocalVato
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 6, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Affordable Housing: Code word for "Close to work crash pads rented by Google TurdBoy engineers". An other land mark ruined by the city council and gentrification. Why don't they shut down some greasy old car-repair shop on a back street to build their engineer housing... but nooo, they have to screw-up a great old-school Mountain View tradition just because it's sitting on a valuable street corner.

3 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 6, 2013 at 10:44 pm

In reply to LocalVato: we all need a place for car repair and old Middlefield road still allows residents to get those services. I don't personally care if the restaurants and code-violation apartments are torn down but let's not let anyone harm the auto repair shops unless everyone wants to drive to San Jose for car repair.

3 people like this
Posted by SAM
a resident of North Whisman
on Dec 7, 2013 at 8:01 am

Two locations remain.

580 N, Rengstorff Avenue

152 Castro Street

3 people like this
Posted by Burrito lover
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 7, 2013 at 1:55 pm

In reply to LocalVato: Google engineers make far too much money to qualify for any affordable housing program. These engineers are the ones who increase demand for housing and drive rents up, thus making it difficult for low wage earners to find suitable housing for their families. Instead these units will be occupied by all those who struggle to support their families on minimum wage. Affordable housing is a requirement of the community and essential to building healthy communities. The building was distressed, redevelopment was inevitable, and building owner was vulnerable to lawsuits. All good things come to an end at some point in time. Just sayin...

3 people like this
Posted by Poco Loco
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 7, 2013 at 3:49 pm

No offense to the folks at La Bamba, but the Rengstorff location sucks.
Ever since La Costena left that location some years back, due to the owner's personal issues and had La Bamba take it over. It hasn't been the same.

3 people like this
Posted by Los Altos foodie
a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2013 at 9:16 pm

My husband and I were shocked to see La Costena and Taqueria La Bamba shuttered tonight. I used to live in Mtn View and have patronized La Bamba many times. How sad that the community is losing these two small-business treasures. I wonder if they'll be able to flourish in locations other than their prized corner. I'm also a Milk Pail customer, and they're getting squeezed out by big businesses too. A real loss for Mtn View, because these small places have such faithful followers from near AND far. I feel for the store owners.

3 people like this
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2013 at 10:25 am

100 Moffett Blvd. project was just approved, comment about "temp housing" was made. If one leases or rents space to live is temporary, what about businesses in the situation. I wouldn't call it big business, just high demand for space.

This building was old, tired and outdated, but I would imagine that the employees who made our lovely yummy burritos lived in this building. Past, present and with the new building coming. Future workers who will make.our yummy burritos.

If we don't provide housing to Google workers or Burrito shop employees, rents will rise, high tech companies will.expand. Burrito maker will not enough to rent, commuting will be out of the question, small businesses will be driven out.

Driven out due to high costs, short term workers, cheap big fast food chains or box stores that don't really care. Turnover can be high but for a place like La Bamba or La Costena, turnover can be hard.

3 people like this
Posted by AllYouCanEat
a resident of Castro City
on Dec 9, 2013 at 9:36 am

There's a bright side all of this. When the extreme low income housing goes up that 7/11 and Mini Mart will get a huge boom in liquor sales.

Mt. View just dropped two businesses to help to others.

4 people like this
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 9, 2013 at 3:40 pm

This is not "affordable housing". This is subsidized housing. The city did not find some magic way to reduce costs; they just increased the housing costs for others residents who will pay for this entitlement.

3 people like this
Posted by mr niceo
a resident of Bailey Park
on Dec 9, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Both eateries should have been condemned long ago, BIG roach and rat problem, old buildings like that have got to go.

4 people like this
Posted by Flava Dave
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 10, 2013 at 1:51 am

Flava Dave is a registered user.

I'm not going to say which one--because that would only get deleted...but one of them had blatant HACCP violations all the time. better off with a new start.

3 people like this
Posted by R
a resident of North Whisman
on Dec 12, 2013 at 12:03 pm

La Bamba hasnt been good since the 90's anyway

3 people like this
Posted by LA Local
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 13, 2014 at 10:09 am

My Sicilian grandparents built the grocery store complex I think back in 1948 (way before I was born) and lived upstairs with my mother and her two brothers for many years after they built it (we have the pictures of its construction). Lots of history in my family related to that site. Seeing the cyclone fence around it at Christmas time made me sad. I personally cannot trust what the media or politicians say...its fate is already sealed and we say goodbye to a landmark.

3 people like this
Posted by onetimeresident
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 26, 2014 at 3:00 pm

I was shocked to recently see the old building that was at the corner of Rengstorff and Middlefield gone. I grew up around that neighborhood back in the fifties and it was the only grocery store around at first. The old Castro City Market by the tracks was the other one. But times change I guess, along with the needs of the community with it. I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did. Perhaps LA Local's family could donate some pictures of the building to the Mt. View Historical Association to keep it's memory alive.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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