On January 26th, the small town of Colfax lost part of its soul. A perennial favorite of the locals and hungry travelers on I-80 for seven years, Cafe Luna closed its doors for the last time.
It was the sopas with carnitas that hooked me. The very first time I ate at the cafe in 2015, it was located on Depot Street, in a hole in the wall. Well…an even smaller hole in the wall. Mario’s music was playing, Lauren was still nursing Lola, the vibe was super cool and casual, the food was great. What more could a customer want? For those of us who were regulars, it was as comfortable as hanging out at a friend’s house. We got excited when the back of the building was opened up for more seating options – (yay!); we counted the days as Lauren waddled around, working right up to her due date with Mael, who then became the town baby; we watched in dismay as the news of their separation and divorce ultimately became public knowledge.
But life goes on, and Mario continued the business, experimenting with different ideas. Some of them were hits, some were misses. He was just about to re-open the back after a massive redo to what was surely going to be a hit when he discovered his lease wasn’t being renewed.
Moving, no matter how well planned, is generally a messy endeavor. Locating another site for your business can be tiresome, very expensive and usually requires lots of time. The new owner of the building, for whatever personal or business reasons, gave Mario three months to vacate; Mario chose to end it after one month.
The last business day, Saturday, I ordered a favorite of mine. I would have liked to order the whole menu so I could make the savory goodness last…but it wouldn’t have. The food was always made with fresh ingredients and wouldn’t have kept well. Instead, I ate it slowly, trying to remember the textures, tastes and smell.
Monday rolled around and I was back at the cafe with my camera to take pics for Mario on a different project, so I snapped a few while there of the progress being made. All the little knick-knacks that made the place so homey were packed up, the walls were uncharacteristically bare, and an empty McDonald’s bag sat on a table, a telling sight in this room. The cooler that normally held the drinks and salsa and other condiments was turned off, no happy music came from the kitchen where Mario normally spent his work day. It was, after all, just a place with four walls, a roof and a floor.
I have asked Mario several times if he plans to continue looking for another local site. His response is general and vague, and he assures me if something good comes up, he’ll pursue it, but for now, he’ll be working at Dine ‘n Dash.
So ends that chapter of Cafe Luna on 38 N. Main Street. We will miss you.