Ever since La Imperial announced that it would close before Christmas, fans of the family-owned eatery in Hayward have been lamenting its loss -- especially in the wake of the Banchero's shutdown earlier this year.
Current owner Martin Gilbert, who was 11 months old when his mother, Maria Gilbert, opened the restaurant in 1972, told the Hayward Daily Review that business was down and he wanted to give customers warning.
"As many of you know, we lost our Matriarch Mama Gilbert in June. With saddness and regret the family has decided to close La Imperial by the end of the year. We do not have a firm date yet. It will be between the end of November and December 15. As loyal as our regulars are, we wanted to give as much notice as possible so everyone had time to get their fill, & stock your freezers if needed. Many of you have become like family & we have so loved & been honored to watch your families grow. We do hope to see you, ALOT, over the next 6-8 weeks. From our family to yours we thank you so much for 40 wonderful years of support, love, & laughs. Martin, Ninfa, Trish, Ernie, Petrona, Anna, Michelle, Roy, & Priscilla."
But it's not all gloom and doom on the dining front.
Patch noted with interest the soon-to-open Hayward Farmhouse restaurant. And the new Boulevard Burgers has added variety to the local dining experience.
Readers have also offered some suggestions for family restaurantsto replace Banchero's and, by extension, La Imperial. These include:
- Genghix in Castro Valley
- Francesco's in Oakland
- Rigatoni's Restaurant (multiple locations)
- Tito's Mexican Restaurant in San Leandro
- Buon Appetito Restaurant in Hayward
- Olive Garden near Southland Mall
- Gold Coast Grill in Alameda
- Elio's in San Leandro.
Still, the loss of old favorites hurts. How many places can draw local celebrities like actor Danny Glover, pictured above, during a recent visit to enjoy the chicken enchilada lunch?
What will you miss about La Imperial? Share your memories and photos. Or nominate a restaurant that you think is destined to become a local classic.