Albany’s El Maya II Mexican Restaurant, located on Old Dawson Road for over 20 years, closed its doors Sunday due to rising overhead costs and sluggish sales. (Staff photo: Brad McEwen)
ALBANY — After two decades feeding residents in the Good Life City, El Maya II Mexican Restaurant closed its Albany location Sunday night due to increasing financial concerns.
Owner Jose Diaz said Monday that he made the decision to close the restaurant after several months of seeing business decline while expenses continued to rise.
“Things have changed,” Diaz said. “It’s sad. We’ve been struggling the last couple of years. With the cost of operation and more competition I couldn’t keep it open. I was breaking even for a little while, but as soon as we were losing money, I had to close.”
Diaz said food costs had been increasing over the past few years and he had considered raising the price of certain items, but ultimately decided against that. He said he felt if he went up high enough to make it worthwhile he would lose business.
“If I went up even 10 percent the customers wouldn’t understand,” said Diaz. “They don’t understand how the market is. They think an avocado is maybe only $1 but they’re $2 each. They used to cost 50 cents. It was better to just close.”
Despite having to close the doors on what was once one of Albany’s busiest restaurants, Diaz said the El Maya location on U.S. Highway 19 in Lee County was thriving and would remain open.
“It’s a smaller store and there’s less competition there,” said Diaz. “That location was doing almost double the business and is half the size.”
Diaz said the the restaurant had grown a loyal following over the years in Albany and he fully expects many of the regulars to become regulars at the Lee County location, something he welcomes.
“We have great customers,” said Diaz. “I really appreciate the support they’ve given me over the years.”
The original El Maya opened on Slappey Boulevard in 1992 and El Maya II opened a year later. Not long after that the original, Slappey Boulevard location closed and then in 2000 Diaz opened the Lee County restaurant.