After closing its 15-year-old location on Avenue A back in 2014, San Loco is shuttering its remaining East Village taco joint. The original location on Second Avenue had been serving up guaco locos for over 30 years, but it’s closing Tuesday “due to a rent increase that’s unsustainable,” according to an Instagram message. Here’s the “heartbroken” (and, let’s face it, heartbreaking) announcement, posted just minutes ago.
We are heartbroken to announce that we are closing our 2nd Ave location due to a rent increase that is unsustainable. Tomorrow, June 20th will be out last day of business. Our other #sanloco locations will remain open so please come visit us. Thank you 2nd avenue for 30+ years, we will surely miss you.
San Loco was opened by brothers Craig and Darrell Nelsen in 1986, when “New York City’s East Village was a wasteland when it came to Mexican food,” according to its official bio. “It was practically impossible to find a tasty ground beef taco, so in 1986, the two brothers opened San Loco on Second Avenue and St. Marks Place.”
Craig eventually left the business– partly because his anti-immigration activism caused a rift with his brother– and sold his shares to his sister Jill and her husband Kimo. Last year, Jill Hing told Jeremiah’s Vanishing NY that San Loco had been “feeling unbelievable pressure caused by the increased cost of doing business for quite a few years now. At this point, we are not sure how much longer we can hang on.” She said one of the locations was facing a rent renewal that was 15 to 20 percent above comparable spaces in the neighborhood, and complained about the way Yelp and Seamless had affected business. She also cited the neighborhood’s changing demographics, saying, “The nightlife has definitely changed as well. Our neighborhood has more professionals and students now. People aren’t out roaming the streets and leaving shows at 3 a.m. anymore.”
Personally, few things bring me back to the year 1998 like the taste of a San Loco taco (it’s not like you can score a “Bob Marley” from Burritoville anymore), but it’s possible that “Gringo-Mex,” with its Taco Bell-esque hard-shell/soft-shell mashups, is no longer such an alluring concept now that the city has gotten savvier and pickier about authentic Mexican food. Add to that, the number of taco and burrito joints in the East Village has multiplied in recent years. Within spitting distance of San Loco are Taqueria Diana, Otto’s Tacos, Tacos Morelos, the Taco Box at B Bar, Empellon Al Pastor, and, of course, Chipotle, just to name a few.
San Loco will still have locations in Lower East Side, Williamsburg, and Bushwick.