The Story of Nayarit, an Echo Park Mexican Restaurant That Became a Hub for Immigrants | Echo Park News

Regulars and employees celebrate the reopening of El Nayarit in 1967 after a fire.

Echo Park – A Mexican restaurant that closed over 40 years ago finally has its own book.

“A Place in Nayarit” by USC professor Natalia Molina tells the story of the Sunset Boulevard restaurant that once occupied the current site of The Echo nightclub. Run by Molina’s grandmother, Natalia Barraza, El Nayarit became a center for the local Mexican community – workers and customers.

Nayarit has shown how restaurants can “serve as social spaces that shape the neighborhoods they are in” and “empower those who inhabit the surrounding area,” Molina said in 2019 when she gave a talk on the subject.

The first El Nayarit operated for several years near Boyle Heights. Barraza moved to a larger 70-seat venue in Echo Park in 1951. At this location, the restaurant began to attract a loyal clientele that included a mix of working-class Mexicans as well as actors, musicians and entertainers. other celebrities.

After Barraza’s death, his daughter sold the restaurant in the mid-1970s to Cuban owners who kept the Nayarit name, Molina said. After more than 20 years, the building was sold to concert promoter Mitchell Frank, who opened The Echo nightclub on the site in 2001.

Subtitled “How a Mexican Restaurant Nurtured a Community,” the book comes out in April. All profits earned in 2022 go to None of us without youwhich provides food aid to undocumented hotel workers affected by the pandemic.

“I wrote this book with the same goal as No Us Without You,” Molina said. “To support immigrant workers.

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