County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox's Restaurant, El Portal, is Closed

Categories: News

wilcox el portal 2003.jpg
Image: Dan Cortez
El Portal, the restaurant owned by Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, is closed for business.

El Portal, the downtown Phoenix restaurant owned by Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox and her husband, Earl, is apparently closed.

We're still waiting for Supervisor Wilcox to return our call, but notations on the county's restaurant inspection site tell the story.

el portal door view.jpg

The once-popular restaurant located on the corner of 2nd Avenue and Grant Street has been overdue for a sorely needed health inspection. But, on November 9, the county's Web site reports:

DOORS WERE LOCKED. UNABLE TO GAIN ENTRY. NO INSPECTION CONDUCTED TODAY.


Then, a week later, on November 15:


DOORS WERE LOCKED. LEFT A MESSAGE ON THE FRONT DOOR REQUESTING INFORMATION AS TO WHETHER THEY ARE STILL OPERATING AND WHAT THE HOURS OF OPERATION ARE. MADE INQUIRY AT NEIGHBORING BUSINESS AND WAS TOLD THEY HAVEN'T OPENED IN AT LEAST A COUPLE OF MONTHS.


Nobody answered the phones at either the Grant Street location or its spin-off at ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism building.

El Portal's been a Mexican food restaurant since it opened in 1947, and the neat, "old" (by Phoenix standards) building is one of the area's treasures. The Wilcoxes eventually bought the property and launched their business in 2000.

Besides food, the restaurant served up a couple of side orders of controversy over the years. The Earl and Mary Rose Wilcox razed a century-old building on the property, avoiding a criminal prosecution after making a $10,000 donation to the Phoenix Historic Preservation Office.

Last year, loans acquired for El Portal were the subject of a criminal probe by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former County Attorney Andrew Thomas. Although the probe was thoroughly discredited as just another power play by Arpaio Thomas (the criminal charges were ultimately dropped), the case remains in the hands of Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores, whose office hasn't yet made a decision whether to prosecute.

In a $4.75 million claim against the county, Wilcox reported that El Portal was losing business due to the allegations against her.

With the business receiving a long string of "no awards" from the health department, though, we're willing to wait until the Wilcoxes solve the restaurant's internal problems before the re-opening.


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4 comments
Phil
Phil

With a long string of health violations and criminal prosecution pending, Mary Rose & Earl "Butt-ox" are just months away from public humiliation. Sheriff Joe and Andrew Thomas had it right! Corruption runs rampant in our county & city government, with the help of folks like Phil Gordon and his cronies.It's time to clean house in all government offices!

Sainteve
Sainteve

No worries, Mary and Earl will be in prison by the end of 2011. Ooop's, cat's out of the bag.

A little birdie told me.
A little birdie told me.

It has been closed since mid-Summer. I miss the green chile burritos, mmmmm. Word on the street is they might open back up in January.

Ray Stern
Ray Stern

It was still open for business on September 17, when Mary Rose held a press conference there:

http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.c...

I asked her about the health inspections then for the blog post we published in October, and she said nothing about being closed or closing. She said the restaurant had solved its problems and would soon be winning a "gold" rating:

http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.c...

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