El Patio Restaurant closes a year after being named Lindsay’s 2016 Business of the Year
By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN
LINDSAY – El Patio Restaurant in Lindsay has closed down before, for 11 years to be precise, but this time it’s permanent.
A year after being named Business of the Year by the Lindsay Chamber of Commerce, the stylish Mexican restaurant, located at 123 W. Honolulu St. in Lindsay, officially closed last month and is for sale. The owner, Refugio “Cookie” Rios III, could not be reached for comment. The Lindsay Chamber of Commerce said the business has been closed since November but did say that Cookie picked up an application to sell food at the weekly Friday Night Market in downtown.
Cookie originally opened El Patio in 1991 but closed the blossoming restaurant in 2001 in order to renovate the aging building. The roof was leaking, there was no central heating and air conditioning and the electrical system had to be upgraded to handle the demand. He also secured a business loan from the City to do a major seismic retrofit to the concrete foundation, ceiling supports and brick walls.
Less than a year into the project, the housing market started to take off and his father, Refugio “Junior” Rios II, became ill. Junior asked his three eldest sons to help him keep up with the demand. It was decided that the family business, Los Rios Construction, was the priority to help his father complete projects in one of the most competitive housing markets he had seen. Never giving up on his dream, Cookie spent the next 10 years retrofitting the restaurant on the side. Doing most of the work by himself or with one other person, Cookie said every little problem turned into a major setback in terms of time.
After an 11-year hiatus, Cookie reopened El Patio on July 10, 2015 with a lot of fanfare. In its first two years back, the restaurant had earned five stars on Yelp and had more than 1,700 Likes on Facebook and 1,000 on Instagram. In January 2017, El Patio was honored as Business of the Year for his commitment to community service. Despite being a small business, Cookie routinely sent employees, often paid employees, to help at nearly every event on the Lindsay calendar, from Orange Blossom Festival in the spring to the Posada event in the winter and car shows, quinceaneras and food fundraisers like the Menudo Cook-Off and Rib Cook-Off in between.