Share Memories, Photos Of La Imperial Restaurant

The family owned Mexican restaurant announced its shutdown on Facebook to spare diners the shock that came when Banchero's closed suddenly.


Ever since La Imperial announced that it would close before Christmas, fans of the family-owned eatery in Hayward have been lamenting its loss -- especially in the wake of the Banchero's shutdown earlier this year.

Current owner Martin Gilbert, who was 11 months old when his mother, Maria Gilbert, opened the restaurant in 1972, told the Hayward Daily Review that business was down and he wanted to give customers warning.

His Facebook note was somber:

"As many of you know, we lost our Matriarch Mama Gilbert in June. With saddness and regret the family has decided to close La Imperial by the end of the year. We do not have a firm date yet. It will be between the end of November and December 15. As loyal as our regulars are, we wanted to give as much notice as possible so everyone had time to get their fill, & stock your freezers if needed. Many of you have become like family & we have so loved & been honored to watch your families grow. We do hope to see you, ALOT, over the next 6-8 weeks. From our family to yours we thank you so much for 40 wonderful years of support, love, & laughs. Martin, Ninfa, Trish, Ernie, Petrona, Anna, Michelle, Roy, & Priscilla."

But it's not all gloom and doom on the dining front.

Patch noted with interest the soon-to-open Hayward Farmhouse restaurant. And the new Boulevard Burgers has added variety to the local dining experience.

Readers have also offered some suggestions for family restaurantsto replace Banchero's and, by extension, La Imperial. These include:

  1. Genghix in Castro Valley 
  2. Francesco's in Oakland
  3. Rigatoni's Restaurant (multiple locations)
  4. Tito's Mexican Restaurant in San Leandro
  5. Buon Appetito Restaurant in Hayward
  6. Olive Garden near Southland Mall
  7. Gold Coast Grill in Alameda
  8. Elio's in San Leandro.

Still, the loss of old favorites hurts. How many places can draw local celebrities like actor Danny Glover, pictured above, during a recent visit to enjoy the chicken enchilada lunch?

What will you miss about La Imperial? Share your memories and photos. Or nominate a restaurant that you think is destined to become a local classic.

Fred Eiger October 18, 2012 at 12:13 PM
I guess Talisa never heard about the Health Dept.
Talisa C. October 18, 2012 at 02:52 PM
And lucky for you Fred, the Health Dept thinks Guido's already closed a long time ago.
Scott Hickman October 18, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Living in the Sierras now. I'm coming down to the Bay Area on October 30 with my wife on her monthly busines trip. Will hover in Hayward for the day for a ritual send-off one last time. I'll make a holiday of it. Breakfast, 9AM: huevos rancheros; lunch, 1PM: chili verde burrito platter; dinner, 5PM: steak ranchero. I'll need a place to lie down in between meals. Hope to see you there!
Scott Hickman October 18, 2012 at 08:15 PM
I was a waiter ther in 1976. I was the large dark-haired, bearded hippie. One night big Martin challenged me to a super burrito eating contest. I smoked him... fhooooh!!! As far as I know, I still hold a super burrito eating record from that occasion. Three super bean burritos, 12 minutes flat.
Scott Hickman October 18, 2012 at 08:21 PM
BTW Delores was actually from Central America (Nicaragua?) She and martin started out selling burritos and taco at the Big Top flea market. I was one of their very first customers when they opened the store. They sold food cooked by Ninfa even then at a tiny square lunch counter way in the back of the store. Little by little the store shrank and it became all restaurant by the late seventies or so.


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