Last night, the Telegraph Avenue community turned out in force to honor Mario and Rosalinda Tejada, owners of Mario’s La Fiesta Restaurant on Haste Street, who are stepping down after running the popular eatery for an extraordinary 52 years.
The couple’s farewell retirement party was everything you would expect from an expertly crafted Mexican fiesta — with a Mariachi band, flowing drinks, tables heaving with food, including spicy chicken, guacamole, celebratory cakes and cookies — and, of course, piňatas.
Mario Tejada said he was sad to be retiring and leaving the restaurant. “But I have seven grandchildren and I want to spend time with them,” he said. “They play baseball and I haven’t been able to watch them. Now I will.”
Mario and Rosalinda’s son Mario spoke of his parents’ dedication to running the popular restaurant, which moved from its previous Telegraph Avenue location to 2506 Haste a year ago.
“Just recently they were preparing food for Cal [the restaurant has long served the Golden Bears] and the staff were here in the kitchens preparing 1,100 burritos at four in the morning,” he said. Mario, who is 50, added that he was two years younger than the restaurant, “which is why Fiesta is my middle name”.
Peter Tannenbaum said he had been coming to Mario’s for 32 years. “I love the family atmosphere, the low prices and the good food,” he said.
Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan, as well as Mayor Bates’ Chief of Staff Julie Sinai came out to toast the couple, who will retire to their home in Walnut Creek.
The restaurant is being taken over by Manny Lopez and will be renamed Remy’s Mexican Restaurant.