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El Calderon restaurant to close after 44 years

Original post made on May 31, 2013

Lita Lopez has decided to retire from El Calderon restaurant in Mountain View 44 years after she and her husband first opened its doors to customers.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 31, 2013, 1:25 PM

Comments (32)

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Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of another community
on May 31, 2013 at 2:34 pm

My wife and IO will miss El Calderon. We have been enjoying their great food for many years.

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Posted by Bruno
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 31, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Terrible news. Short notice on top of that.

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Posted by SavadorYum!
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 31, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Thank you for feeding us for 44 years!

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Posted by kathy
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 31, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Too bad, nice people, strange there is no quote from the man who seemed to run the restaurant (not sure of his name). We used to see the older lady sitting there but he did all the work. Great little neighborhood place (offering a house would have been a plus, they only had beer).

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Posted by
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on May 31, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Not an El Calderon patron but I'm saddened each time a family-owned business (esp a restaurant) goes out of business. Small businesses are the real backbone of our economy, employing more workers than any other arena of business. Waaaay more important than the corporations...SPREAD THE WORD.

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Posted by Anna
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 31, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Great restaurant indeed!
It called my attention about Mr Lopez enjoying the view in Mountain View.
I hope that beautiful view may not be replaced by apartment buildings like in San Antonio with El Camino.

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Posted by Martha
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 31, 2013 at 4:34 pm

How ironic! We had just heard about El Calderon and were going to make a point of going there this coming week. Too bad we missed what sounded to be a great restaurant.

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Posted by marina
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 31, 2013 at 5:02 pm

I remember going there in the 70's and was introduced to it after a boyfriend read that Herb Caen took the train down from San Francisco just to eat there and experience their great food!
El Calderon's pupusas and cabbage side is what I hold as the gold standard and I compare all others to them. I think I had my first Dos Equis there as well. And as the most interesting man in the world would say, "I may not always eat Salvadoran food but when I do I prefer El Calderon."
Thank you for creating such a wonderful restaurant. Yours was always a wonderful addition to the diverse cuisine in Mountain View.
Have a wonderful retirement - you deserve it!!!

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Posted by sean
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 31, 2013 at 5:35 pm

sean is a registered user.

This place was great until they changed the cook, non carry out patrons got good food but carry out was poor. Read yelp reviews and you will see, the guy gave me a all rice burrito with sour cream once- i waited for 15 minutes, then I talked to others and they said the same thing, bones in the chicken- little to no meat and just crap. good riddens La Calderon!

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Posted by D
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 31, 2013 at 5:59 pm

I've been going to El Calderon since I was a toddler when Mrs Lopez would serve a hamburger to us kids who hasn't yet developed a pallette for Mexican and salvadorean food. Over the years it was like going to dinner at abuela's with her homey decor and her warm sweet hospitality. Will miss the enchiladas and the tacos, and of course señora Lopez's "ay! Que lindo!"

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Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 31, 2013 at 10:50 pm

A Marine Corps colonel and an aerospace engineer -- they did well. Good people.

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Posted by Steve
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2013 at 9:33 am

I remember when I first came to Mountain View in 1974 to open the Milk Pail. My roommates and I would celebrate special occasions at El Calderon.
Last year the same three roommates got together and met for lunch at El Calderon and there was Mrs. Lopez greeting us just like 30 some years before.
Yes, I agree, small businesses give communities character!

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2013 at 10:52 am

As I get closer to 50 years old, wow time flies right by and the changes. I start remembering places like the El Calderon and the Menu Tree. It is those small businesses that get to you, why on earth would anyone want to remember Taco Bell.

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Posted by Former MV guy, Kent S.
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Harry's Hof-brau, Menu Tree, Brave Bull, Old Mill's eatery places and El Calderon were very good, too I missed long MV. Now, I'm living in a slow growth community of beautiful Morgan Hill.

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Posted by Greg David
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 2, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Greg David is a registered user.

It's always a shame to see an old family run establishment close, but unless the younger generations are involved, inevitably there must be an end. I remember as a young boy in the 70's living on Bush St., going to El Calderon with my family for dinner. It was one of a few staple destinations here in Mountain View we went to when mom or dad didn't want to do dinner at home. If only I had the palette for Mexican and Salvadorean food then as I do now...

It saddens me a bit to see some new to the neighborhood trash the memory of a great establishment. They just don't get it and never will. They should keep their comments on Yelp where nobody cares.

As for the new beginnings, I think "vegetarian Chinese" is not totally accurate. I have spoken with the woman who will be taking on a new venture in the location and yes, it will be vegetarian, and yes, she and her backers are Chinese, but I don't believe it will be a "Chinese" restaurant. I'm cautiously optimistic as I know this person person well and I really hope to see her vision succeed in OMV.

Stay tuned...

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Posted by NW Resident
a resident of North Whisman
on Jun 3, 2013 at 9:12 am

So sorry to see El Calderon go and many thanks to the Lopez family for their hard work in making their restaurant a Mountain View institution!

My family and I enjoyed several nice dinners there over the years and always enjoyed seeing the Lopez family photos pinned up near the front door.

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Posted by Chick-fil-haaay!!!
a resident of Slater
on Jun 3, 2013 at 9:21 am

Gee, thanks for reporting the closure on it's final day. Too bad I'm reading this two days later.

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Posted by Al
a resident of North Whisman
on Jun 3, 2013 at 7:52 pm

I remember my first experience with, was it hot! The owner was very sympathetic and offered to get me something else, but I was determined to finish my meal (sigh, I was unsuccessful). They returned again to ask how I was doing and I was embarrassed to say I couldn't finish. To the owners, thank you and good retirement.

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Posted by Sean again, just not logged in
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 3, 2013 at 10:10 pm

@Garrett, I agree with you but these small places are only as good as the management and in my opinion this place has out grown the owners. I can 100% say the steak grilled stuffed burrito from Taco Bell is better then any burrito I have purchased from El Calderon. Quality control is better period, and don't forget that Taco Bell is a franchise and the owners are BUSINESS people with money. I paid $8.00 for average to crap burritos to help support this place, sianora!

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2013 at 10:51 am

@ Sean.

I agree with you, I have been to some national rated places, went in for dinner, came out not very happy. I told the owner, the owner wanted to know about it, next time I went in food was perfect.

I know people who didn't like El Calderon, that was fine, you don't have to love every place. Taste buds are different, some people I know just can't handle a burrito or even eat fish.

I am someone who likes to try different places, El Calderon was different, it will be missed, the owner seeing that she is 86 years old. The place might have been taking its toll on her.

Lita Lopez pull up a chair, enjoy your family and friends, rest you have owned a business for 44 years. Time for people to make dinner for you.

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Posted by Maria
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2013 at 11:16 am

I've been coming with my family since I was a High school student. We've moved from Mtn. View, but we still come back just for the wonderful food. My kids and their friends have always called her Tia Lita. I will terribly miss her famous home-made pupusas - my favorite!

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Posted by Liz
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 4, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Someone asked the question regarding who is the man that is doing all the work at El Calderon that happens to be her son. So said to see this place go. My cousin worked the in the 80's as a waitress.

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Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jun 4, 2013 at 5:24 pm

One of the real problem Mountain View continues to have is a loss of the community feeling and uniqueness it formerly had before GREED took over.
I liked my ORIGINAL MVHS and now it's gone. The above named restaurants also gave MV the sense of community.
One of the things I like about the Denver Metro Area is the sense of different communities within the Denver City limits.
In many areas, you can see placards or signs denoting the history of the community, with some over a hundred years old!( including the original buildings! ).

You are losing you identity. Now you are just as unique as anywhere else in the SFBA. Demolishing a building or closing a business and leaving a placard isn't the same thing.

BTW, If you start building multi-story buildings, better change the name because of irony of having the name Mountain View when you can't see a mountain from anywhere in the city...

The Mountain View in CO outdoes you in the gorgeous view of the Rockies....

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Posted by Sean
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 4, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Very well said punisher and garret.i remember 8 years ago as a young man 22 thinking it would be so cool to have google open up in my backyard. Not so cool any more IMO.

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Denver Metro area grew over a period of time, tall builders were built, oil industry I understand was part of the reason for growth. I am sure people who were brought up in Denver sure miss the old days.

Google growths was a global one, it just didn't get grow without out customers or users. I use Google, they have gotten big, so has Wal Mart, McDonald's and even Chick Fil A. We brought their products, what they had to offer and give them the money to expand.

It is about business. Shop at the Milk Pail, Rose Market, Red Rock Coffee to combat the retail greed. Use Non Google stuff to combat Google.

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Posted by Hilda
a resident of Castro City
on Jun 5, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Dona Angela and Don Roberto,
Thank you for providing a great place to eat. I will miss your Chicken soup . I always ordered it when I ate at your restaurant. If you read this, I am sure you know who I am right away.
Have a great retirement! You are a really hard worker lady Dona Angela. All your customer will miss you.

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Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jun 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm

If you want a cheesy, MV or SFBA flavor, head to EAST Denver to the DTC...


Highlands Ranch even looks like and is built up like Daly City! The REST of Colorado point fingers to the ( their word ) CALIFORNICATORS who bring their housing and nasty driving habits to the DTC.

The DTC ( Denver Tech Center ) is where the multi-story buildings from Silicon Valley sprang up. There even is an office block that is an exact duplicate of one in San Jose! I kid you not!

The only other large buildings are allowed in downtown Denver proper. Mostly LEGAL and BIG BUSINESS Offices for a real big city feel.

When Qwest ( we called it Qworst ) tried to keep an obnoxious sign ( bright enough to see it 50 miles away ) the citizens of CO got it shut off legally.

Yes, the citizens here care about their town and don't let $$$ rule every government decision.

Maybe your government needs to do the same thing....

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Posted by Scott Lamb
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 6, 2013 at 10:41 am

You guys are unbelievable. This wasn't about big businesses forcing her out. She retired at the age of 86. What was the city supposed to do to stop that - cure aging? Change is inevitable in any city. Well-loved local restaurants with many memories close down, new local restaurants open and await memories of their own. The new places seem like a poor substitute to you now, but in another 44 years I promise you'll be complaining even more bitterly when they close down.

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Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jun 7, 2013 at 8:45 am

When a proprietor of a business elects to close it down rather than appointing a person to keep a business open ( especially a POPULAR one! ), that should send a BIG warning that something is wrong at the city hall level! Too many taxes, too much paperwork or too many regulations cause a business to ether move or just close shop.
Changes are not good for a stable business climate that M. V. USED to have.
Someone took a hard look at the hassles running a business ( restaurants have one of the lowest ROI in GOOD a business climate ) and decided it was not worth keeping open. ( my ex was a CPA handling restaurant finances )

Good city governments like stability; it keeps a predictable tax base and people who live in the town happy. Too many changes mean the residents move too. On a MACRO level, How many businesses are leaving the (not so)Golden State?

Or do you LIKE becoming a suburb of Googleville? The typical RUSSIAN built " block of flats " might also be in Mountain View's future. More people = more $$$ to a developer and a government that caters to it.

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Lots Lopez retired after 44 years, maybe she didn't want to take over her hard work. Heart and Soul could be poured into a business, then only to have it destroyed by family or new owners. Personally I have know people who ran from the family business when the right offer came in.

Don't even know if Google will be around in 40 years, so many other long term places were forced out due to? Trains, Cars, Planes, McDonald's, Wall Mart, Home Depot, typewriters, PC's, Blockbuster, Amazon, Safeway, internet and cheap overseas imports.

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Posted by Maurice Gálvez
a resident of another community
on Nov 21, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Sorry to hear about the closure of the restaurant, but very happy that you will now have time to enjoy your family. Loved our last visit with you and especially sharing family history. Hope we can connect again. Thanks for wonderful family memories and stories. Wishing you every happiness, blessings and many more years among your loved ones. Fondly, Christine

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Posted by Frankie
a resident of another community
on Jan 25, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Lita, so happy you are going to be able to enjoy your grandchildren in your retirement. You may remember me as the boy from Canada who went to St. Francis with Bobby. I stopped in to see you after my first day at school and Bobby and I started our great friendship. You treated me as family right away and I will always be grateful for that. All my love and make sure you enjoy yourself. Love you, Frankie from Canada.

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