Home Biz 24-680 Real Estate Could It Be? C’mon, El Charro, Don’t Tease!

Could It Be? C’mon, El Charro, Don’t Tease!


Mexican food fans still mourning the loss of El Charro in Lafayette may be heartened by this sign, spotted a day ago at the old Maria Maria location in Walnut Creek.

Now, we know locals think there’ s only one El Charro and may think a resurrection of sorts may be in play with margaritas and bleu cheese dip flowing again, but we’re not so sure, aware of at least one other El Charro in the area and others laying claim to the name so we need to see if they’re vying for the spot. We’re thinking this El Charro is out of Oakland… so, it may not be the Mexican food you were thinking of, but it sounds like it’s going to be Mexican again!


  1. If you look at the CA Sec. of State’s documents for the company “Original El Charro 1 LLC”, it does not mention the prior owners of El Charro, the Shields. However, it does mention the name of a prominent restauranteur, Jon Guhl. His Little Star pizza is one of the best in the City. Hopefully, the old El Charro recipes are being resurrected but it looks like new capital, new management.

  2. Except they didn’t want any of the staff including the executive chef and they don’t have the recipes so LOL

    • As someone who also knows, this comment is 100% true! It’s honestly a shame. The people who worked at the Lafayette location deserved so much more.

      • I can honestly say that a lot of people deserve a lot more than they get from life but that most times life just does what life does and says nope, sorry, your not getting that. It suks but — that’s life.

    • When someone buys a restaurant, they have every right to hire who they want, and are under no obligation to retain the previous staff. If you’re a business owner, and you don’t want control over who does/doesn’t work there, you won’t be a very successful one. Unless you’re self employed, we’re all at risk of losing our jobs. It’s the way of the world.

      • The problem Keith is that they publicly went on the news and said that they hired all the staff back and offered everyone jobs. That is not true, that is a lie. Nobody expected them to hire the old staff, but going public and saying you did that when you didn’t is wrong on many levels. To the customers. To the staff. To everyone.

  3. Comment from the former owners of El Charro Laura Brogan Shields to an earlier post on the 680/24 corridor history group
    Hey everyone, We had to file bankruptcy in April. This person (Maria Maria) bought the rights to our name. He is a multi-restaurant owner, with his own staff, chef etc. He also purchased our original recipes. These recipes included the cheese dip. Dave and I lost Charro and now our home. We miss you all and wish him the best. He took all my memories, awards and pictures, some decorations and items I had saved since I was a teenager. I wish him well.

      • Bankruptcy filings are public. This is a very sad case of a company that was successful until the last year. I’m assuming the shutdowns were too much. Owners put much of their own money into the business and now have lost that.

    • To: Laura Shields
      My sympathies to you and your family including the wonderful staff of El Charro, Lafayette. I know the restaurant owner you are referring to and all I can say is you have my empathy. By his own words, owns 40% of the businesses in Walnut Creek. Whatever happened to diversity? And why does he seem to have such a stronghold on this City?

      The right and just thing to have done, would have been to help a fellow restaurant owner survive the Pandemic and Allie the restaurant to thrive as it once did. To take the name, the recipes, etc. and benefit from over 70 years of history and hard work in this community is shameful. I for one won’t be dining at El Charro (Maria, Maria) and I would urge other patrons of our beloved original El Charro to do the same. Solidarity and compassion for the original El Charro – not this possible imposter.

      Thank you Laura Shields for sharing this information with the community.

      • I’ll send this to her, Kelly.

        I was the former GM at El Charro Lafayette, and it literally breaks my heart that the new owner didn’t want to retain any of the staff. The situation that took place, was our Chef (whose recipes were NOT sold) was offered a place at Maria Maria training their cooks to make the food, but wasn’t offered a permanent place on their payroll. For obvious reasons, he declined the offer.

        I too, wish there was help to be had at the time we closed. It’s very sad that this new place thinks they can buy a name and have it be the same as the El Charro everyone knew and loved.

        • Thank you Danielle. I apologize for typos in my initial comments but I was upset to hear this story and my mind was racing faster than my fingers were typing!

          I am well familiar with the restaurant owner (Maria Maria). In my opinion, Maria Maria will never be El Charro. Nice try but imposters are just that! While the recipes are an important part of the history and legacy of El Charro, the people, the staff and the atmosphere helped to make it an integral part of the history of Lafayette.

  4. In the Dismal Science this is referred to as “creative destruction”, but it reminds us that in the future, all restaurants are Taco Bell.

    • Sad to hear they lost their home. Did they use it to try to survive Covid?

      The owners of Ole’s Waffle House in Alameda sold their retirement property to keep their staff and restaurant afloat.

      • Why didn’t they tap a PPP “loan” or other federal handout to the merchant class? Too much pride? Red tape?

  5. Tried it tonight. Not a thing like the original. Nothing tasted good and was very bland. Will not return. Sad, as El Charro was very good.

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