Customers and employees of a pair of longtime Portland restaurants were left with many questions after the two spots abruptly closed for good over the holiday weekend.
The Waddle family has been in the restaurant business in Portland since 1945, for three generations. The family once owned as many as four restaurants, including the first Original Taco House, which dated back to 1960.
That location on Northeast 82nd Avenue and the one on Southeast Powell Boulevard opened in 1969 were the only two left owned by the family. Now, they both have signs on their doors saying they're closed.
Jeff Waddle was emotional Monday as he spoke with FOX 12. Waddle ran the business for more than 40 years with his brother, who recently died of a heart attack.
That loss coupled with other financial issues led Waddle to make the difficult decision to close down the restaurants.
“First off, I want to say to our customers I'm sorry we have to close,” he told FOX 12. "We just ran out of options and had to close the doors. There was no other way to do this."
Waddle said he tried hard to keep the restaurants running for both his customers and his employees, 65 of whom are now losing their jobs at the two locations.
The restaurant was not a trendy one, but it lasted. Waddle credited that longevity to all the hard work, heart and soul of his grandparents, parents and the employees.
The restaurants have served generations of customers, many of whom have cherished memories. Lynne Barnes' high school boyfriend worked as a busboy at the Original Taco House. She has now been married to that former busboy for 56 years, and news of the closing left her feeling sentimental.
"It just makes you realize how fast the time has gone and how long we've been here," Barnes told FOX 12.
While there was no one in the latest generation of the Waddle family who was interested in taking over the restaurants, Jeff Waddle said he may not be done yet with the business.
Waddle also noted that many customers may have purchased gift cards for the restaurants during the holiday season. He said they would be reimbursed, and that anyone with questions should email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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