Cabos closing its doors this month

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 7:50 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Tallahassee foodies are saying farewell to a longtime fixture that’s closing its doors at the end of October.

Cabos Island Grill and Bar will serve its guests for the last time on Saturday, October 23.

If the restaurant walls could talk, their story would be one of family.

“They come up to me, ‘oh these are my kids, this is the first meal they ever ate, this is the first I ever had, my wife and I have been eating here since it was a taco stand,” said owner Mike Ferrara.

Ferrara opened up a taco stand in 1987.

A few years later, he teamed up with Bobby Staerker. The two opened the current Cabos location on January 31, 1994.

Staerker said it took six months to renovate the building, and it has been a wild ride ever since.

“This place was built with no contractors, friends all came in,” Ferrara said. “The tables were all handmade, all the stucco was done by us, we laid the floor.”

The two say their philosophy has always been to serve good food at a fair price.

But their real legacy is what they call a big, dysfunctional family formed around full plates.

“I met my wife here,” Ferrara said. “We just had an employee move up to Michigan to be with an employee that she worked with in the 90′s.”

Tables were turning over for more than three decades.

But the COVID-19 pandemic began to take its toll.

“Up until the COVID hit, we never had one day from 1994 to 2020 that we didn’t at least break,” Ferrara said.

Maneuvering COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions, the owners say, was stressful and challenging. That was followed by cutbacks and staffing shortages, which the two say they tried to power through.

“At the beginning of this we had to think, if all the restaurants close, these are restaurant people. A lot of these, it’s all they’ve known and it’s all they know how to do,” Staerker said. “What are they going to do, where are they going to go. We stayed open as much for them as we did for us.”

This decision, they say was a difficult goodbye. But with a reservation for retirement, they say they’re entering this chapter with no regrets.

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Staerker said. “Once they get that, you’ve created lifelong friends.”

Saturday, October 23 will be the restaurant’s final day. Staerker and Ferrara say they hope the community can stop in in order to say thank you, and goodbye.

The restaurant owners say some of the community appreciation day photos will be for sale.

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