La Amistad Café, a popular Mexican restaurant near Clarksburg, California, served its last customers on Sunday, October 8, 2023, after more than 50 years of business. The restaurant was owned and operated by the Lopez family, who immigrated to the United States from Mexico in the 1950s and settled in Clarksburg. The café was their American dream come true.
Gilberto and Juanita Lopez opened La Amistad Café in 1972, and named it after the Spanish word for friendship. Their son Gil said they wanted to create a place where people could enjoy authentic Mexican food and feel welcomed. They also wanted to provide for their children’s education and future. Gil said his parents sent all their kids through college and graduate school while running the café.
A community favorite
La Amistad Café, also known as Shorty’s, after Gilberto’s nickname, was a favorite spot for locals and visitors alike. The café offered a variety of dishes, such as burritos, enchiladas, tacos, and nachos, as well as homemade salsa and tortillas. The café was also known for its friendly service and cozy atmosphere.
Many customers said they had been coming to La Amistad Café for decades, and considered it a part of their lives. Gary Merwin, a Clarksburg resident who had been a regular since the café opened, said he was emotional about the closure. He said it was like an end of an era. He said he would miss the food, especially the chorizo and egg burrito, but more importantly, he would miss seeing the Lopez family.
Chuck Pacheco, another long-time customer, said he visited the café almost daily. He said his favorite dish was refried beans with sunny side eggs and onions. He said he was sad that he would no longer be able to come to his favorite spot. He said the café was more than just a restaurant, it was a place where people could connect and share stories.
A difficult decision
The Lopez family decided to close La Amistad Café after Juanita, who is now in her mid-80s, fell ill. Gil said they could not take care of her and run the café at the same time. He said they did not plan to close this way, but they knew this day had to come eventually. He said it was a difficult decision, because he had grown up in the café and had many memories there.
Gil said he was grateful for all the support and love they had received from the community over the years. He said he hoped their customers would remember them fondly and keep their friendship alive. He said he did not know what they would do with the property now that the café was closed. He said their main priority was making sure Juanita got better.
The closure of La Amistad Café marks the end of a family legacy and a community staple. The café will be sorely missed by many who enjoyed its food and hospitality.