El Sombrero, other Northland staples reopen with community support

Posted at 8:46 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 21:47:52-04

CLAYCOMO, Mo.  — Several businesses in the Northland survived shutdowns amid the coronavirus pandemic, have reopened and are in the process of recovering.

A the end of March, Larry Barrera was preparing to close the doors to his family's restaurant, El Sombrero, in Claycomo and never reopen.

He didn't think he could keep up with paying bills and not making enough money.

El Sombrero closed on March 27.

"I went through so many mixed emotions during that time off," Barrera said on Tuesday.

However, it looks like the tradition isn't going to stop at 56 years.

Business was nonstop during Barrera's last week open. Then, he secured a paycheck-protection program loan that helped pay bills and bring back staff.

Because of this, El Sombrero was able to reopen on May 5, much to the excitement of its loyal guests.

"Most of all, it's all the people in my life that made this happen," Barrera said. "Without them, without all that love and friendship and kindness and giving, we couldn't be here."

They are allowed to have about 20 people inside the restaurant now, each party spaced out. The restaurant is still offering curbside and take-out orders, as well as to-go margaritas.

Barrera said the response was wild when he reopened.

"The traffic was backed up from here all the way to I-35," Barrera said.

The Northland is full of these local staples.

Riverside Mayor Kathy Rose said places like The Corner Cafe and Red X help drive the economy during this time.

"Those two businesses are what I call destination businesses in Riverside because people come from all over the region," Rose said.

It's a good feeling for business owners like Barrera to be such an important part of the community.

"We're back in business and we're here to stay," Barrera said.

Barrera is looking forward to Clay County's Phase 2 of reopening, but said El Sombrero will still offer to-go and curbside service.