Beloved Austin restaurant to celebrate 65 years as others close

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Last year was a hard year for many longtime Austin restaurant owners.

Ruby’s BBQ shuttered its smoke pits last February after nearly 30 years in business.

“At this point, I believe (owner Pat Mares) probably fed me more than my mother over the years,” said Paul Minor, a longtime Ruby’s BBQ diner.

The Frisco closed in July after a 65-year run and south Austin staple Hill’s Cafe shut two months later after 71 years. 

Finally, in December, the iconic Threadgill’s on Riverside finally bowed to rising property taxes. The delicious chicken-fried steak wasn’t quite enough to overcome a monthly rent of $40,000.

Through it all, El Patio on Guadalupe has persevered. It has been serving enchiladas and chalupas since 1954 when Paul and Maryann Joseph decided to open the Mexican restaurant. 

They took over the same building once known for its breakfast, hamburgers and two-and-a-half pound T-bone steak special named Schoonerville restaurant. 

On Saturday, the longtime Mexican restaurant will celebrate 65 years. 

“We’re blessed, very blessed,” David Joseph said, El Patio’s owner. “Every day that I close my doors I say, ‘Thank you God for giving me an opportunity.'”

While you won’t find a patio at El Patio, you will discover a taste of history served with a side of queso. 

“My sister and my mom are complaining because I’m taking all the chips but I have to have my queso,” said patron, Nick Henson, who drives in from Taylor to eat at the famed Mexican food.

From UT football stars, to a former First Lady, even an astronaut, many cannot resist the historical Mexican restaurant.

El Patio has many “regular” patrons who have dined at the restaurant for decades. 

Jim Deyer, a diner, told KXAN he had been coming to the restaurant since the 60s. “I came here when I was in high school in the 50s,” Mike Wacker said. 

Many restaurants have similar life-long patrons but even with all that support some just can’t make the cut for various reasons. 

“It’s sad thing to see the Frisco Night Hawk, El Gallo, all these other restaurants closing, it’s heartbreaking,” Joseph said. I feel bad for those who are having to pay for an exuberant amount of rents because it’s hard, people go and they look at the menu and they’re like, ‘God, these prices are so high.’ Well, here’s the story you have rent, taxes insurance, payroll, I mean the list goes on and on before you can put a dime in your pocket.”

Joseph says for now, those dimes continue to add up at his restaurant, and they’ll continue to do what they do best — serving up a dish of Austin history.

The celebration kicks off as soon as doors open at 11 a.m. for lunch service. There will be food, music, raffles, and giveaways as well as some champagne to toast. 

The City of Austin’s Mayor Steve Adler proclaims the day as “El Patio Restaurant Day in Austin.”

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