FLINT TWP. — Within five minutes on Sunday, a steady trickle of cars entered the empty parking lot at Don Pablos restaurant off Miller Road, then made a slow u-turn to leave.
Either they were unaware of the bad news or seeing for themselves that the long-time Mexican restaurant at 3145 Miller Road has permanently closed.
There was no fire this time – the reason the restaurant temporarily closed twice in the past.
Signs posted on the door informed “valued employees and guests’ that the restaurant closed permanently as of April 9 and invited them to visit the Shelby Township location in Macomb County.
“We deeply appreciate the hard work and the continued support of our guests over the years,’’ one sign on the door stated. “It is unfortunate that we had no other solution but to close. Thank you.”
Management did not respond to a request for comment on the reason for closing or the number of employees affected.
Signage on the door also informed vendors that no further deliveries were being accepted and how to make arrangements to pick up equipment this week.
The restaurant began operating at this location in 1994. It sustained two fires in just over a year – one in May 2011 and the second in July 2012. Both were caused by carelessly discarded cigarette butts. The 2012 fire caused enough damage to require extensive renovation, shutting down the restaurant for about nine months.
This permanent closure comes about two years after the business reopened in April 2013.
Faithful fans welcomed it back with hearty appetites, according to Facebook postings at www.facebook.com/ pages/Don-Pablos/158048487556870
News of the restaurant’s closing forever drew mixed reactions from Facebook followers.
“Our server was good, but the overall visit was not very good,” one commented about a year ago. “Completely understaffed waited two hours for our food. Disappointing.”
Another commented four months ago: “Definitely not like it used to be. Very bland and food wasn’t to hot.”
A third poster last Friday said she visited right after the restaurant reopened and was unhappy with the taste, portion size and service.
“Too bad. In the beginning it was really good food,’’ she wrote.
Don Pablos is adjacent to a former Longhorn Steakhouse restaurant that has been closed several years. A nearby K-mart store and former Citizens/First Merit bank building also have closed within the past year.