Farewell Macayo’s: Staff, patrons enjoy one last night at popular Las Vegas eatery

Miranda Alam / Special to the Sun

A look inside the Macayo’s on West Sahara Avenue in Las Vegas on the popular eatery’s last day of business on March 10, 2019. It closed after nearly 60 years of operation.

For Sheryle Bartlett, Macayo’s has been a mainstay for her family and friends for decades. The memories are many.

“I’ve been coming since high school in the 1970s,” Bartlett said Sunday evening while enjoying one last meal at the popular Las Vegas eatery on West Sahara Avenue. “I went to Western High and Macayo’s was the place to go back then after football games. I’ve been coming ever since.”

Sheryle and her husband, Don, like many others in the Las Vegas area, grabbed one last meal before the restaurant shut down at the close of business Sunday. The other Las Vegas Macayo’s location, at 1741 E. Charleston Ave., will also close its doors soon, though an exact date hasn’t been announced.

Tears — from both staff members and patrons — could be spotted around the West Sahara restaurant Sunday during the evening dinner rush. For owner Edmon Haddad, the Macayo’s brand has been a family tradition. Haddad’s late father, who went by the same name, helped Edmon’s great-uncle, Woody Johnson, start the first Las Vegas Macayo’s on East Charleston in 1959. The original Macayo’s was opened in Phoenix by Johnson in 1946.

“It’s a tight-knit group,” Haddad said Sunday as customers continued to come and go during the restaurant’s final hours. “I’ve spent my whole life in this restaurant. I started doing maintenance when I was 13 and I’ve worked every job since. There’s a lot of history here.”

Haddad said a large restaurant conglomerate recently purchased the Macayo’s name.

“They plan on keeping the stores open, but they’re going to remodel and everything,” Haddad said. “I hope to start a new store here with a different name, but with the same recipes and the same menu.”

Macayo's Closes Its Doors

Macayo's owner Edmon Haddad poses for a portrait at the Sahara Avenue location in Las Vegas on Sunday, March 10, 2019. Miranda Alam/Special to the Sun Launch slideshow »

Haddad also plans to open another Mexican restaurant in Las Vegas, although he’s still working the details. He intends to bring many from the Macayo’s staff to join him. The feeling is mutual: Longtime servers Linda Marrocco and Heather Legan said they hope to work for Haddad again in the future.

“This has been my family and home for 15 years,” Marrocco said while fighting back tears. “We have a lot of regulars. Even if you’re not a regular, we try to make you feel like one. I’ve worked in restaurants for 40 years and it’s not normal for people to get along like we do at Macayo’s.”

Right on cue, Legan took a break from her tables to offer Marrocco a tissue as she described her feelings, illustrating the point about Macayo’s being family.

A few minutes before that, across the restaurant, Sheryle Bartlett reminisced about some of her favorite servers over the years, including Marrocco.

She said her 16-year-old grandson, Michael, always asks to come to Macayo’s for his birthday.

“That’s been an annual thing for him for a long time,” Bartlett said. “Every time he comes in, he wants to see Linda because she’s always so nice to him. He’s really going to miss this place.”

While it was busy on Sunday, it wasn’t as busy as it has been at times since the announcement to close was made late last month. At times, the line to get a table has been out the door and the parking lot completely full, Marrocco said.

An outpouring of fond memories have been shared on the Facebook page in recent weeks.

Don Bartlett, after finishing his burrito del Mar, said it’s difficult to see a Las Vegas tradition go away.

“I hope they open the restaurant — we’re excited to find out where it might be,” Don Bartlett said. “This is sad. It’s like losing family. I feel blessed that we were able to get one last taste on the last day before they shut ‘er up.”

“It’s kind of surreal, but I guess all good things come to an end.”