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Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva closes due to pandemic shutdown

Chef Esparza still has hope for the original Barrio Cafe while she uses the restaurant to feed the hungry and community for free.

PHOENIX — One of the biggest names in local cuisine is not immune to the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza is behind the well-known Barrio Café in central Phoenix, but it’s one of her recent ventures in downtown Phoenix which is taking a hit.

“I'm going to have to say goodbye to Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva,” Esparza said.

Chef Esparza posted an emotional announcement on her Facebook page. The closing of her fine-dining Mexican restaurant on Grand Avenue - a victim of the coronavirus shutdown.

“Gran Reserva was my opus my swan song,” said Chef Esparza.

After 30 days closed and a lack of funds, Esparza was forced to shut down Gran Reserva to keep the original Barrio Café, located on 16th Street and Thomas, up and running.

“I had to make a very painful, painful decision,” said Esparza. “I think it's important to have Mexican food represented at the highest level instead of just burritos and combination number 8.”

She was able to keep all the staff employees.

Even in the middle of all this economic uncertainty, she is still finding ways to give back. Now, they're helping her feed the poor and the medical staff at the local hospitals for free.

“Today we delivered to the Heart Hospital. Tomorrow we're delivering to Banner,” said Esparza.

She says serving the community helps her keep sane in this unusual climate.

“I know as a good Mexican, that when your neighbor's house is on fire, you help them put it out. You cook a pot of beans and you feed them,” said Esparza.

Esparza says the original Barrio Café is going to rise from the ashes and transform into something better.

“I'll have the classics for sure, but what comes out will be post-pandemic. So, I'm excited to see what happens,” said Esparza.

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