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Restaurant opens as others close due to pandemic

Even as restaurants shutter due to the pandemic, some, like Casa Maya in North Portland, just opened their doors.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Sandwiched between two restaurants, Fino Bistro Bar Pizzeria and Derby, in the popular Kenton neighborhood you will find Casa Maya. The authentic Mexican food restaurant is owned and operated by three friends.

"This is our dream," said Alegindro Sanchez. "Talk about it all the time - we're going to have a business one day."

Nobody could have imagined that day would come in the middle of a global pandemic. In fact, the owners lost their previous jobs because of the pandemic, but here they are.

"It's been really good," said Sanchez. "Happy to be here."

Casa Maya opened its doors not even a week ago.

"I can't believe it," said Sanchez. "(I) pinch myself sometimes."

Credit: Mike Benner, KGW staff
A customer orders food at the front counter of Casa Maya.

The owners of Casa Maya say they do not plan on going anywhere any time soon.

"We have been working in many restaurants here in Portland, Oregon," said Miguel Angel Chidzul. "We've worked in Mexico in restaurants so we have the experience."

Experience is good, seeing as so many restaurants are closing amidst the pandemic. Mi Mero Mole, Bluehour, Altabira, Citizen Baker and Nel Centro are just a few of the restaurants that have closed. The Toffee Club in Southeast Portland plans to close its doors in a week.

Credit: Mike Benner, KGW staff
The Toffee Club is closing its doors Aug. 23.

"If you suddenly have a third of the number of people in your business it's tough," said Niki Diamond of The Toffee Club.

"This year has been hard for everyone," added Sanchez.

The owners of Casa Maya feel for their fellow restaurant owners who have been forced to close. They plan to channel that energy into making sure their restaurant is a success for years to come.

"We're going to be here for a while," said Sanchez.

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