|Bye bye, Baja 600|
Update (1:30 p.m. Aug. 12): The employees at the shuttered Baja 600 restaurant were given their walking papers Tuesday, according to Sam, a waiter who requested that we not use his real name. Sam had worked for the restaurant ("I made damn good money there," he says) for 19 months and said he was continually told by his manager that the venue would remain open even though it had been operating without a liquor license for the last 30 days.
"When customers would walk in and hear that they couldn't get a margarita or a cocktail with their dinner," Sam said, "80 percent of them would simply turn around and walk out. Every week we would be told, 'Next week we'll have our liquor license again,' and every week nothing happened -- except our tips dried up."
11 a.m. Aug. 12: There was a sheet of white paper taped to the glass-door patio
entrance of restaurateur Blair Hurst's Baja 600 restaurant yesterday.
Someone had scrawled on the paper: "Closed for remodeling." It was
closed, all right -- for good.
According to Richard McPeake, the executive chef at Blair Hurst's other restaurant, Jack Gage American Tavern, the joint ain't ever going to be Baja 600 again.
"We're out of there, man," McPeake tells me.
There have been rumors flying around the restaurant community for months that the owner of the Country Club Plaza, Highwood Properties, wanted Baja 600 -- a Tex-Mex restaurant not particularly known for outstanding cuisine -- out of the prime location at 600 Ward Parkway. Highwood Properties spokesperson Gayle Terry confirmed that the restaurant is closed -- and not for remodeling. Will Highwood be showing the restaurant property to any other potential tenants? "It's a lovely space with a beautiful patio," said Terry. "But I can't comment on anything other than that?"
The Star's Joyce Smith has reported that Hurst, as late as this spring, owed Highwood Properties a considerable amount in unpaid rent and late fees and had been late in renewing Baja's liquor license. Not having a liquor license, of course, sounded a death knell for a restaurant that did great cocktail business on its patio.
"The restaurant did a pretty amazing business even though, inside the building, the place was falling apart," said Sam the waiter. "The management wouldn't repair anything. I think they knew this was all coming."