Back in 2017, San Loco left the East Village after 30 years of serving tacos there, and last year it left Bushwick. Now the “gringo Mex” institution is closing up its Williamsburg shop, in part because of the L train “nightmare.” Its last day will be February 24, but the owners hope to reopen nearby and have launched a fundraiser in hopes that fans will, well, shell out.
This isn’t the first time San Loco has had to move its Williamsburg location. Back in 2014, it lost its lease on North 4th Street and decamped to its current home at 637 Driggs Avenue. But Jill Hing, who owns the taqueria with her husband Kimo, tells us adjacent construction and the on-again, off-again L-train shutdown have put such a dent in their bottom line that they’ve been having trouble making the rent. She says that since October, sales have been down 25 percent compared to the same time period last year.
Hing describes the L train shutdown as “a bit of a nightmare,” and says employees are often forced to take expensive Lyfts and Ubers home during nighttime and weekend closures, not to mention sporadic unanticipated service outages. “As much as it’s difficult for our employees,” Hing notes, “They kind of have to be there. But you think about customers and other people who have to come to the neighborhood, they don’t want to mess with it.”
To add to the headache, construction of a hotel across the street as well as luxury developments on all sides has led to sidewalk closures, wifi outages, and other ongoing challenges, Hing says. And the luxury apartments have brought new residents that aren’t necessarily craving Guaco Tacos. “It used to be live music and bars,” Hing said of the area surrounding San Loco. “Now it’s different; much higher end, a lot of young, very wealthy professions, a lot of families, babies in strollers. It’s a lovely neighborhood, but it’s not really our crowd.”
Hing declined to say how much San Loco owes its landlord. But she told us she and her husband, who started the business in 1986 with two brothers who are no longer involved, have been let out of their lease and are now negotiating for a space that’s “more towards Bushwick,” on the other side of the BQE.
As for San Loco’s one remaining location, on the Lower East Side, Hing assures us “it’s fine, it’s doing well,” and she says she’s even hoping to return to the East Village now that rents have gone down a bit. For now, though, she’s focused on the Brooklyn relocation. As of this posting, the GoFundMe campaign has raised over $4,700.