MILPITAS, Calif. - Wednesday marks the end of a family favorite in Milpitas. Baja Cactus Mexican Restaurant is closing after 36 years in business and customers are sad to see it go.
Driving down Main Street in Milpitas, there are not a lot of restaurants or shops but one restaurant in particular has been thriving for years, Baja Cactus.
On Wednesday, many people found out on Facebook it’s closing.
"Somebody posted that this is the last day Baja Cactus is going to open so I changed my dinner plans and had to come down and get my chicken one more time," said Chris Sanchez of Milpitas.
Sanchez gave them a nice tip as a thank you for being in Milpitas for so long. Another long-time patron rushed down to double his usual order.
It’s been open since 1985. A family originally from Baja wanted to serve authentic Mexican cuisine from that region. Now second generation family members operate it. They’re often in the kitchen or serving customers.
"I remember having a birthday dinner here once for my dad, gosh this had to be 35 years ago," said Jennie Marquez of Milpitas. "He’s no longer with us."
With mariachi music in the background, the place filled with memories and tradition. It feels like home.
"You’ve got the old time feel," said Marquez. "There’s a lot of Mexican restaurants in the Bay Area but this one is small and cozy. It kind of reminds you of the old times."
The pandemic has led to the demise of many restaurants but not this one. The owner said the building has new ownership and isn't renewing their lease, leaving locals in disbelief.
"We don’t have a favorite Mexican restaurant anymore, it’s just so sad," said Kim Antoku of Milpitas.
"I think the worst thing that ever happened to us is this place closing," said Sherri Garnsey of Milpitas.
For its last night, dinner service was supposed to end at 8 p.m. Lots of people stayed well past that bidding the place farewell.
"Thank you very much for all the years of good food and good company and I’m going to cry now," said Garnsey.
Customers would love for them to open another restaurant in Milpitas or close by. The owners have a restaurant in Temecula. Lucky for Milpitas, there are other good Mexican restaurants but it’s not quite the same.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.