Las Katarinas Mexican restaurant, a fixture on Broad Street in Nevada City for the past 10 years, is closing its doors after Labor Day, though it might reopen elsewhere, according to co-owner Dave Francis.
The restaurant at 311 Broad St. (whose name is Spanish for “ladybug”) has been doing well, with a loyal following and has no debt, but the “kitchen is just not workable for the business we have,” Francis said. The historic buildings downtown continue to be a blessing and a curse for their tenants: A blessing for the charm — but a curse because of the need to continually modernize and upgrade them.
I’ve known Dave for years, and we’ve discussed this ongoing challenge. Las Katarinas had employed nine people.
Today is the last day before Dave puts a “for rent” sign in the window. This means that the highly visible 300 block of Broad Street — which once had Cirino’s, Posh Nosh and Citronee Bistro & Wine Bar — will be without a full-service restaurant. Cirino’s building still is for rent or for sale, and the other restaurants have been replaced with retail.
Some bright spots: the relatively new Szabo tasting room at 316 Broad, and the Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co.’s opening on Lower Commercial Street also has benefitted Nevada City. Lefty’s expansion across the highway in Nevada City also has been a plus.
Dave and co-owner Delia Gutierrez, who live in Grass Valley, are going to empty out the premises and go on a long vacation during the coming weeks, Dave said.
They have been informally looking at other restaurant spaces — in Grass Valley and even “off the hill” — and will continue scouting around later in the fall. While there’s no guarantee they will reopen and they’re not in any rush, they want to keep their options open.
Las Katarinas has a built-in following of locals and has been popular with tourists. Cyclists have speed past Las Katarinas at the Amgen Tour of California and Nevada City Bicycle Classic and filled its seats during the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, among other popular events.
Delia and Dave had been inspired by the outpouring of support from their loyal customer dining club members in the final days of the restaurant’s opening. “People didn’t want us to close,” Dave said. Dave has been active in the community, including serving a stint on the Nevada City Chamber board.
The menu at Las Katarinas is pure Mexican. Dishes include pork chile verde, carne asada and tinga (shredded beef in a chipolte sauce). The desserts include flan made from a century-old recipe, with homemade caramel. All of Las Katarinas dishes are made from scratch. Delia is a Mexico City native.