La Fiesta to reopen Monday after brief closure

La Fiesta will reopen on Monday under new ownership.
La Fiesta will reopen on Monday under new ownership.
Photo by Olivia Hanna

The Gainesville favorite La Fiesta, a Mexican restaurant that recently announced its closure, will reopen Monday under new ownership.   

Since the announcement, the restaurant has undergone a range of updates, including a remodel of the interior and exterior, menu changes and new hours. 

La Fiesta will now be opening on Sundays, and new co-owner Amanda Castro said the menu will be elevated, with dishes that have never been served at the restaurant.   

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Jesse and Guadalupe Castro, the owners of La Fiesta, announced last month that they would be closing their doors forever to the Gainesville community. However, on the final closing night, Dec. 16, the Castros announced that La Fiesta would be staying in business.  

The original owners’ children, Amanda and David Castro, will be taking over the business with the support of another family member.  

“It’s really a miracle story,” said Amanda Castro, who credited the community’s outpouring of support for making the difference.  

The Castros got their start in the restaurant business in Athens, GA where they ran a successful restaurant with Guadalupe’s sister. They had dreams to strike out on their own, so Jesse Castro began scouting locations for their next restaurant. They landed on Gainesville because they saw a need for an authentic Mexican restaurant.  

La Fiesta first opened in 1989 and was located off Newberry Road. The restaurant experienced great success. In 2008, La Fiesta moved to its current location off Northwest 39th Avenue.  

La Fiesta, which announced it was closing forever last month, will reopen under new ownership on Monday.
Photo by Olivia Hanna La Fiesta, which announced it was closing forever last month, will reopen under new ownership on Monday.

The restaurant’s business had slowed significantly in the months before they announced the closure. Coupled with a rise in costs, it began to be hard to pay employees with the Castros sometimes not paying themselves.  

But, after the announcement of the closure, the city of Gainesville rallied in support. Old customers drove up from Tampa to say their goodbyes to La Fiesta and the Castro family. 

“It was like Cinco de Mayo every day,” Amanda Castro said. “It was intense. But at the same time, we really—all the staff—we really pulled through and just gathered. So, we were like, Let’s do this, like, you know, we’re in this together. So that’s what we did. We just poured out our heart, everything. Blood, sweat, tears, literally the past two weeks.”  

Amanda Castro pointed out that though La Fiesta has chosen to stay open, it wasn’t an easy decision. She said she’s seen people on social media speculating that the sequence of events was planned, but she said that’s not true.  

“They’re like, ‘Oh, their luck is the best. Like, this one’s my favorite but best marketing geniuses ever,’” she said. “I can barely turn on my phone. She [Guadalupe Castro] doesn’t know how to text. I wish we were that smart. I wish we were geniuses like that…We really were going to close [permanently.”  

The Castros said La Fiesta is not alone in battling a difficult economic climate.  

“A lot of businesses are dealing with that right now and it’s really harsh. That’s the last thing anybody wants. Put all your savings into something and then it doesn’t work out,” Guadalupe Castro said as she talked about the decision to close and reopen. “It’s scary. A lot of other people think it’s easy, but it’s not easy. You don’t know whether they’re going to like you or hate you. Start off from scratch every day…and then the next day it totally changes.”    

While La Fiesta will open Monday, the family is making plans for a grand re-opening sometime in February.  

To see the new menu, visit the website and to stay up to date on any announcements, follow La Fiesta on Facebook.  

New store hours:
11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thur. 
11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat. 
11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun. 

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Hooray for La Fiesta! Thank you for this story.

Gina Mulkey

The absolute best Mexican anywhere. My family has been eating there since they first opened. My kids grew up eating there and now take their children there.