FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The new owners of a beloved Mexican restaurant in northern Colorado have closed its doors for good, citing "COVID financial strain" and "unforeseen circumstances."
"There's not a memory from my childhood that I don't have that I haven't been here," Monica Bird said Sunday.
Pobre Pancho's Mexican Food and Cocktails has been in her family's hands her entire life. Her father, Frank Perez, founded it five decades ago.
"I worked here from 12 on as a teenager and as an adult," Bird said.
In August 2020, as the restaurant struggled through the pandemic and her late father's health declined, a long-time patron named Asher Haun took over most of the ownership.
"They knew our family, and they knew my dad was really sick. And they came in and said, 'Hey, I'd like to help and do what we can,'" Bird said.
Haun helped keep the restaurant afloat, but Bird admits it still struggled to rebound.
"I understand COVID hit everyone hard. It hit all the businesses. So many, just even around us ... the landscape has changed because of COVID," she said.
The restaurant permanently closed Thursday. Bird says the employees did not receive a notice and learned of its closure as they left for the day and noticed someone changing the locks on the doors.
"I wish it would have been handled better so they would have been able to prepare and we could have said goodbye, had a last meal as a family here, and said goodbye to some of our patrons instead of a note," Bird said.
She has since started a GoFundMe for the employees. As of Sunday afternoon, it had raised at least $1,000.
"I want them to be able to be okay, and I feel my dad would want that," she said.
Denver7 reached out to Haun by phone and Facebook several times Sunday but has not received a response.
According to The Coloradoan, Haun plans to sell the building to Raising Canes, a fast-food chain.