Nearly 2 years ago, I posted a story about Villa del Sol.
Bedford Square — the project to turn the old YMCA into a retail/residential/ restaurant complex — was just beginning. Rumors swirled that the popular downtown restaurant would close.
It didn’t. And — for almost 2 years — owners Jennifer and Colleen Osorio have battled construction debris, dust, dirt, noise, parking issues, even lack of access to part of their own building, while serving the margaritas, classic Mexican dishes and contemporary Nuevo Latino ones their customers love.
Colleen and Jennifer Osorio, inside Villa del Sol.
But now there are new rumors. People think that because a proposed land swap — exchanging the restaurant and adjacent parking lot for a parcel across the street — has been scuttled, the restaurant is shutting down.
It’s not. And — with 9 years left on a 10-year lease — Jennifer and Colleen say it won’t.
Yet getting the word out has been tough.
At least once a night, someone asks the sisters if it’s true. So in addition to all the work that goes with being a family-owned businesses — one of the very few left downtown — they have to fight the perception that they’re closing their doors.
Villa Del Sol, on Elm Street across from Serena & Lilly.
Villa del Sol is quite a place. All the furnishings — tables, chairs, artwork — come direct from Mexico. Founder Joe Osorio made many trips south, bringing everything back piece by piece.
Joe’s daughters — Jennifer and Colleen — were always involved in the restaurant. He fought pancreatic cancer for 2 years, and worked until just 3 days before his death, in 2011. The 2 sisters then took over.
Their children all help out now too. A few days ago Jon Osorio was working, on a break from college. Jennifer’s husband, Fili Molina, has been the chef since opening day.
Villa del Sol is part of the community. The restaurant donates food to local churches; participates in downtown and police events, and gives discounts to Staples students.
Jennifer and Colleen say that Bedford Square developer David Waldman — who does not own the restaurant building — has been understanding about their plight.
But, they say, their customers should not have to worry about where they’ll get their margaritas. Nor should the owners always have to explain, We’re open!
They’ve made it through the ups and downs of an uncertain economy. This is one more challenge.
Bedford Square opens this spring. They look forward to the traffic it will bring downtown.
“There have been a lot of great changes here,” Jennifer says. “But we’ve lost a lot of family businesses.
“We just want everyone to know this one is still here.”