Mexican Manhattan Restaurant, downtown San Antonio staple for 62 years, permanently closes

by Ben OlivoOctober 26, 2020
Mexican Manhattan, 110 Soledad St., closed on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020.
Mexican Manhattan Restaurant is located at 110 Soledad St. Photo by Ben Olivo | Heron

Mexican Manhattan Restaurant, which served Tex-Mex food on Soledad Street for more than 62 years, closed for good over the weekend. In 1958, the Karam family opened the restaurant, which has held a special place in the hearts of many San Antonio families for decades.

The Karam's announced the news on the Mexican Manhattan website:

"We cannot say 'THANK YOU' enough to the generations of loyal customers, amazing employees, and terrific friends from near and far. You have given us an incredible 62-year run and we are eternally grateful." A front door sign also reads, "Thank you for over 62 incredible years."

Saturday was the last day of service, which KSAT first reported.

The closure also applies to Judy's Food To Go, which was Mexican Manhattan's grab-and-go sister store-front next door.

The ownership also wants holders of blue, green, or gold certificates to mail them to the current address, 110 Soledad St., for a full refund. "Do not forget to include your correct return address or we cannot process the refund," the website reads.

The Karams could not immediately be reached for comment.

"Thank you again one and all. It truly has been our pleasure to serve you," the ownership continues.

Although the ownership didn't blame the coronavirus pandemic, it's clear the decline in downtown office workers and tourists has taken its toll on downtown restaurants. Mexican Manhattan is technically on the River Walk, but it's not located on the horseshoe segment, which is where most restaurants and bars are concentrated.

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It also appears to have fallen victim to progress.

Across Soledad, the renovation of the Riverview Towers office building into a hotel has closed some on the lanes on Soledad and West Commerce. Construction related to the Witte building on the river level has also cluttered the area with sidewalk impediments and detours.

Founded by the late Tony A. Karam, Mexican Manhattan has been family owned and operated since it opened. According to the restaurant’s website, Karam’s storefront was originally located on the other side of Soledad Street in what was once known as the "Turf Club," a local bar and gambling house owned by former Texas Senator V. E. "Red" Berry; Karam moved Mexican Manhattan to its riverfront location in 1961, next to Solo Serve discount clothing store, another downtown staple. Growing with the city, the restaurant was renovated twice, first in 1988 and again in 1999, to accommodate large crowds of San Antonio locals and tourists.

The Mexican Manhattan San Antonians grew to love was actually a sequel, according to San Antonio Express-News columnist Paula Allen. The original was opened by the Covarrubias family in 1926 on El Paso Street under a different name, before changing it to Mexican Manhattan in the early 1930s, Allen wrote in 2015. That version eventually closed in 1957.

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After the restaurant announced its closure, patrons took to social media to express disappointment and share stories of family dinners, birthday parties and other fond memories.

“I’m so sad that they have closed,” said Facebook user Sylvia Garcia. “Been going there since I was 5 and (I’m) 60 now. Thank you for the wonderful food, service and please give us the guacamole recipe.”

Debbie Herrera posted a picture of her last family dinner at Mexican Manhattan on her Facebook page.

“October 20, 2020 — the last day and picture,” Herrera’s post reads. “We didn’t know (it) would be our last at Mexican Manhattan! I’m so sad and shocked by this. This was a tradition to come here for a birthday and now it ends like this. Thank you for the memories.”

“I’m so sad to hear this news,” Misty Don-Bustamamante said on Facebook. “I couldn’t believe it till I heard their message when I called. This was always my family’s go to place for special occasions ever since our beautiful Grandma Lulu took our parents when they were 15 years old. So many great memories.”

Other notable old-school establishments have fallen victim to the pandemic, including Cadillac Bar on North Flores Street and Reyes Bar on South Flores Street, which are all located in west downtown.

Next to Mexican Manhattan, on the corner of Soledad and West Commerce, the Texas Western Warehouse, a relatively recent retail addition to downtown, announced a "Going Out of Business" sale. The liquidation sale appears to be for all of its locations—in San Antonio, San Marcos and Lytle.

» Downtown San Antonio restaurants navigate low tourism, financial losses
» Cadillac Bar, a 45-year institution, closes its doors following liquidation sale
» Looking back: The week downtown San Antonio became a ghost town
» Downtown economy struggles to return to the new norm, much less the normal norm

Heron fall intern Brigid Cooley contributed to this report.

Heron Editor Ben Olivo can be reached at 210-421-3932 | | @rbolivo on Twitter

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