Lure of retirement too much for owner of El Adobe

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Time is rapidly running out. On May 10th, a Sarasota landmark will close its doors forever. The El Adobe restaurant is shutting down, and it’s a sad time for loyal customers and employees.

As the restaurant counts down to its final day, everybody is asking owner Mary Keim why she's closing. For one thing, she got an offer she couldn't refuse. But the buyer doesn't want the restaurant. “They bought just the land out there."

The restaurant will be torn down. But now in her 80's, Mary is ready to go. "It was about time. My chef has been wanting to retire for some time; he's been with me 42 years, and I kinda promised when he went, I'd go too."

The chef's son Gustavo Diaz is El Adobe's general manager. "Mom and Dad have cooked for Mary since 1974 in Sarasota, and ‘72 in Chicago."

He says they cook by instinct. “I've never seen a recipe book in the kitchen; it's a pinch of this and a pinch of that."

And how do they feel about the closing? "We were a little bit shocked in the beginning, but they are 72 and 74, and they said ‘ok, well it's time…it’s time to do nothing."

His parents first worked for Mary and her partner in their first Mexican restaurant in Illinois. Then Mary's business partner retired to Sarasota. "She called one day and said ‘why don't we open one down here?’ And so we did."

Now as the end draws near, Mary has plans for the future. “Sleep for the first week, and then I will think about it."

So does Gustavo. "I think there's a beautiful beach in Sarasota I haven't been to in a long time. I want to work on my tan first."

As the news of the closing spreads, loyal customers like Suzanne Bradley are flocking to the restaurant to say goodbye. "El Abobe has so many memories of so many times. I was here the first day they opened; I was a young girl dating a teenage boy who had a job here as a waiter."

Over the years, she's brought her children and grandchildren here. But on May 10th, it’s goodbye forever. "I'm sure there are going to be a lot of people crying, especially the employees. We've got some that have been here 20 years and 25 years it'll be hard."