In 2016, Thousand Oaks lost its oldest family-owned restaurant when Lupe’s Mexican Restaurant closed. Now another long-standing Mexican eatery has served its last meal.
Cisco’s Mexican Restaurant, a Westlake staple for nearly 45 years, has closed.
While the Thousand Oaks Cisco’s on Avenida de Los Arboles remains open, people hoping to grab a bite for lunch at the Westlake Boulevard site on Feb. 5 discovered they couldn’t get in.
Advertising outside the restaurant still touted a Champagne Sunday brunch, and there were no signs indicating why the doors were locked.
Owner Bob Wilson, onetime Thousand Oaks mayor, told The Acorn the cost of operating the Westlake location simply became too much.
“The problem is the rent gets too high, and I can’t charge you $25 for an enchilada,” Wilson said. He’s not having the same problem at Avenida de Los Arboles.
“We’re doing just fine in T.O.,” said Wilson, who now makes his home in Indian Wells.
Wilson, who opened the restaurant in 1974, said the new owner of the property raised his monthly payments by $5,000 in October. When the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement, Wilson said, he filed for bankruptcy.
“I explained to the new landlord that this wasn’t acceptable, and they said, ‘You don’t pay, you’ve got to leave.’ So we decided we’re going to take it to Chapter 11,” Wilson said.
“I had enough of the nonsense, so we locked the doors,” he said.
The new landlord, who spoke to The Acorn on the condition that he not be named, said he did not raise the rent on Wilson, but rather decreased it.
The discrepancy is over the property tax increase that arose when the new landlord bought the property, which the owner said Wilson agreed to pay before the deal was done.
“We actually reduced (the rent) to offset the cost of the taxes, and that money doesn’t go to us, it goes to the state,” the landlord said.
The landlord said he feels Wilson is trying to make his family out to be the bad guy even after they made accommodations to try to keep the restaurant in business. The landlord said he bought the site based on the fact that it had a long-term tenant with 13 years remaining on the lease.
“All we did was buy the property and ask him to pay rent,” he said.
In response, Wilson said, “Whatever (the property owners) say, I couldn’t care less. I know who I am, I know how long I’ve been in the community. Hopefully people know me and know my record of service.”
Wilson said he’d consider opening a new Cisco’s in Westlake Village or in Agoura Hills, but that it was too soon to say.
He said he’s fielded numerous phone calls from people lamenting the loss of the restaurant—and among disappointed are his 70 former employees. He said he’ll be able to offer positions at the Arboles location to about 15 of them.
According to the restaurant’s website, the original Cisco’s opened in Northridge in 1971. The Westlake location was built in 1972 and opened in 1974; the T.O. location came in 1999.