Adiós to Los Amigos in West Berlin

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Los Amigos, West Berlin, N.J.

After 41 years, the West Berlin flagship of Los Amigos will close in September.

Curt Taylor, who opened the cantina on Route 73 in 1976 with his wife, Mimi, and in-laws says they aren’t getting any younger and want to enjoy their children and grandchildren. He added that they got a solid offer for the building and liquor license.

The last day of full service will be Sept. 9.

The bar, with a limited food menu, will be open until settlement in late September. A new occupant — a restaurant specializing in hibachi — is expected to take over after renovations.

The Los Amigos location at 1926 Atlantic Ave. in Atlantic City, which opened in 1979, will remain. (A Los Amigos location ran from 1978 to 1998 at 50 S. Second St. in Old City, as well.)

Taylor says he was in his family’s trucking business when Kevin Meeker and his fiancee, Janet (also Mimi’s sister), were visiting New Hampshire as college students when they ate at a Mexican restaurant. “They said, ‘We can do that,'” Taylor says. Also along as partner was a third sister, Patricia Shemeley. (The Meekers, who’ve owned a bunch of restaurants in the region including Keg & Kitchen in Westmont, left the partnership decades ago.)

After West Berlin’s opening and initial success, Taylor says, he decided to learn Mexican and Southwestern cooking. He studied under two chefs and enrolled in cooking school at what was then Atlantic County Community College.

All three of the Taylor children worked at Los Amigos, including Kevin Taylor, a Culinary Institute of America grad who was executive chef at El Vez. He recently opened ATX Cocina in Austin, Texas, with restaurant veterans Guy Villavaso and Larry Foles (father of Eagles quarterback Nick Foles).

Another generation is at work at Los Amigos: Curt and Mimi’s grandson, Matt Thomas, who turns 16 on Sept. 11.