One of Silver Lake’s oldest restaurants, El Conquistador, will be closing at the end of the year after facing a sharp increase in rent imposed by a new landlord that purchased a large chunk of the block.
General Manager Albert Curiel confirmed that El Conquistador will not be renewing its lease at the end of the year and will be shutting its doors in late December after four decades in business. When asked if there was any chance El Conquistador could remain open, Curiel was not optimistic. He explained that the owner of the Sunset Boulevard restaurant would need to undertake a costly renovation of the kitchen. But even then, it would still be unlikely that El Conquistador would be able to afford the much higher rent.
It’s not clear how much rent the new landlord, identified as Sunset Triangle Partners, demanded. But at the end of last year, the eastern section of the block that includes El Conquistador and the adjacent Fandango Salon and the former Naya Indian restaurant sold for $4.8 million, according to online property tax records.
Curiel and others have heard various accounts and rumors about what the new land owners have in store for the property that faces Sunset Triangle Plaza, a small park and a pedestrian plaza. Meanwhile, on the west side of the same block, Silver Lake businesswoman Dana Hollister is planning to turn a former church into a boutique hotel.
Curiel said El Conquistador’s owner, Jesse Pinto, is concerned about what the restaurant’s long-term employees are going to do. Many have worked at the restaurant as teenagers and are now middle-aged with families; some are even grandparents.
“How can you tell people who have been doing the same thing for so long to now go do something different?” Curiel said.