The voicemail message at a longtime Spanish tapas haunt proclaimed the news: “As of Nov. 17, El Mesón is permanently closed.”
El Mesón owners David and Kelly Huertas did not respond to requests for comment on the closure, but a post appeared Thursday morning on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
“After 25 years, El Mesón, la Cocina de España, will be closing its doors indefinitely,” the post said.
“We would like to thank all of our Patrons over the years for their unyielding support, the hundred (or so) past and present Employees for their hard work and dedication and, of course, to the talented Musicians that have graced the El Mesón stage,” the post continued.
“Though bittersweet, we look towards a bright future and hold dear all the wonderful memories that El Mesón has created for each of us.”
The downtown restaurant, on Washington Avenue near the intersection with Marcy Street, closed for “fall break” at the beginning of November, reopened Nov. 9 and then permanently shut down eight days later.
It is one of at least 53 Santa Fe businesses and at least 17 restaurants to close since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.
Chef David Huertas, who opened El Mesón in 1997, specialized in an extensive selection of hot and cold tapas, paella and entrees.
In an interview with The New Mexican after the restaurant’s opening, Huertas said he was born and raised in Spain by a Spanish father and American mother from Santa Fe.
“I used to come to Santa Fe as a child,” he said. “I’ve been coming to Santa Fe for years.”
Before opening El Mesón, he said he worked as a “mercenary chef” at Santacafé and ran La Traviata, helped open Double A restaurant and worked at Bishop’s Lodge.
The El Mesón website says it initially appeared his career would be based in South America as he had been contracted by a Venezuelan company to open a series of restaurants in South American capital cities.
Before he got started, however, Huertas joined his family in Santa Fe because his grandfather had died.
Soon after, the Venezuelan economy collapsed, and Huertas chose to remain in Santa Fe.