Stella Taco, the bright and cheerful counter shop on Division Street known for its tacos and margaritas, will close permanently on Sunday, July 18. In a statement to Eater Portland, owners Becky and Ian Atkins attribute the closure to the uncertain future of the restaurant industry amid the pandemic. “We have owned restaurants in El Paso and Portland for the past 14 years, and no level of experience or business knowledge helps forge the best path forward,” the statement reads. “This is simply what is best for us and our family. We will be closing our doors to make more room for others in the industry to hang in there and come out strong on the other side.”
The taco shop opened its original, brightly colored location on NE Alberta Street in 2014, serving a wide array of Texas-style tacos, plus breakfast tacos. The menu also included a variety of margaritas, like the Austin Rita which saw a mini-bottle of corona upended into a blended margarita. In 2016, the team opened a second location on SE Division Street with similar vibes and menu, then closed their first location in the summer of 2019 in order to focus fully on the SE location. While the restaurant was popular year-round, it was especially so in summer months, with diners seated outside on busy Division street with margaritas and tacos in hand.
The restaurant joins the ever-growing list of pandemic-caused shut downs, Becky Atkins confirmed with Eater PDX, explaining that the limited sidewalk seating wasn’t sustainable longterm. “We’re up for a challenge, but this is the one time that hard work can’t overcome the outside factors that are determining the future of our business,” she says. “We wanted to make this choice while it was still our choice — we wanted to end on a high note. I hope we’re able to make space for other restaurants to be successful once this is all over.”
Stella Taco will remain open with in-person and online takeout and curbside seating until Sunday; the owners invite everyone to come in for some final tacos and to say goodbye.