Both Original Taco House locations closing in Portland

Both Original Taco House locations in Portland closed Dec. 31, 2017. KATU photo

With the end of the year came the end of an era for Original Taco House restaurants in Portland.

With no notice, and much to the dismay of customers, signs were posted at the doors of both locations indicating that the family-owned Mexican restaurant chain was closing both of their locations for good.

"We sincerely thank and appreciate all of our longtime dedicated customers, our tremendous vendors, and all of the loyal support from our wonderful employees that we have been blessed with for so many years," owner Jeff Waddle wrote on the sign.

Cheryl Carmin says she had been eating at the restaurant on Northeast 82nd Avenue for 55 years. She found out via text messages from friends that it was closing, but she didn't believe it and went to see for herself.

"I came up here and saw the sign on the door -- very, very sad," Carmin said.

Employees found out about the closure from text messages between co-workers or by coming to work and seeing the note posted to the doors. Faith Chaffee, a bartender at the Southeast Powell location, said no one saw the closure coming.

"Blindsided, completely blindsided. I had no idea that it was going to be closing, and now I don't have a job, so it's not a good way to ring in the new year," Chaffee said.

The two locations are at 3550 S.E. Powell Blvd. and 3255 N.E. 82nd Ave. in Portland.

The Original Taco House on Northeast 82nd Avenue was the first location for the family-owned chain. It opened in 1960. The location on Southeast Powell had been around since 1969. It's known as the second Mexican food restaurant to open in the Rose City. It stemmed from the Success of Waddle's Coffee Shop, which opened in 1945 at Jantzen Beach.

"Probably the hardest day of my life in the business world to do something like this and it was not planned," Jeff Waddle said in an interview with KATU News.

Waddle said they have been trying to sell the property on Northeast 82nd Avenue and learned that the sale was going through just last week. He says that is the reason for the sudden news.

"There is never a good way to do something like this, and I've never done it, so it's all new to me. I feel terrible about it. It's one of those things where you don't know it's sold until it's sold," Waddle said.

He decided to sell the property after his brother, and business partner, died in 2017. Waddle says they had an agreement where if something happened to one of them, the surviving brother would take care of the other's family.

"We sold the property, and this is the way I can honor my brother's wishes and take care of his family," Waddle said.

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The sign posted at the restaurant reads:

“We are closing our doors to both of our Original Taco House Restaurants Tomorrow December 31st, 2017.

“We sincerely thank and appreciate all of our longtime dedicated customers, our tremendous vendors, and all of the loyal support from our wonderful employees that we have been blessed with for so many years.

“Our Waddle’s family business began in 1945 built with my granparents [sic] dreams, hard work, and extreme sacrifices and continued on with many fun prosperous years giving sincere thanks to my parents and 2 brothers for their passionate and devoted efforts that made it possible for our family to successfully serve our quality Original Taco House foods to 4 family generations of customers.

“This final chapter comes as a very emotional decision. There is simply no Waddle left to greet our customers with the warm sincere welcomeness [sic] that has been our family’s most essential ingredient since the beginning of our time.

“My Sincerest Thanks & Appreciation and Blessings – Jeff Waddle.”

The news has disappointed many. Locals posted on social media with memories at the restaurants.

The Columbian, KATU’s news partner, reported that the Vancouver location of The Original Taco House closed on Nov. 27, 2016.

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