Villa Escondida, the excellent Mexican diner featured in our recent top-10 new places for cheap eats, closed down suddenly this past weekend to fans’ distress. But owner Jose Perez is looking at new locations today, including one that would keep his family-run spot on Capitol Hill.
Perez says he had to close Villa Escondida down because of a verbal contract with the landlord that went awry. “Things were going so good,” Perez says; then the landlord “wanted a lot more money than what we’d agreed.” Perez was also trying to renew the liquor license and says that the landlord kept putting off signing the paperwork. The space, tucked away in the back of the Broadway Alley building, was previously (and briefly) home to Torteria Barriga Llena (and a number of other restaurants prior to that).
He’s lost more in terms of labor put into the space than money spent, he says. “We worked on the space day and night for three days — six people, family members,” he says. But he doesn’t sound at all resentful, and he and his family are ready and willing to put in a similar effort on a new location. “We don’t mind working 24 hours to get it open.”
And he very much wants Villa Escondida to stay on Capitol Hill. “It’s gotta be somewhere around there. We’re going to try the best we can,” he says. While the restaurant was open less than a year, he says, “We’ve got a lot of regulars. They keep bringing people and bringing people, and we really appreciate that.” Perez is an alum of Seattle Central College, two blocks away.
He says his family will still be the crew in a new location, too. “Everybody wants to be there: my mom, my dad, my brother, my wife,” he says. “Everything will be the same — it has to be the same. Only the location will change.” The regulars, like the guy at the next table who was an evangelist for the birria on my first visit, will doubtlessly be waiting. Perez says he’ll let us know as soon as he’s got a new spot.