El Lucero restaurant reopens at Woodlawn

Popular family-run Mexican eatery got the boot from Columbine Square

Posted 7/9/18

Littleton's beloved El Lucero restaurant — and those addictive crispy chile rellenos — are back. Maria Navarro and her family are in business at Woodlawn Shopping Center at 1500 W. Littleton …

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El Lucero restaurant reopens at Woodlawn

Popular family-run Mexican eatery got the boot from Columbine Square

Posted

Littleton's beloved El Lucero restaurant — and those addictive crispy chile rellenos — are back.

Maria Navarro and her family are in business at Woodlawn Shopping Center at 1500 W. Littleton Blvd., serving up homestyle enchiladas, burritos and a host of items smothered in their signature green chili.

“We've only been here three weeks, but already our regulars are coming back,” Navarro said.

The family restaurant was formerly located at the Columbine Square Shopping Center at South Federal Boulevard and West Belleview Avenue, but closed when the shopping center was shuttered in 2014. El Lucero's old building sat empty and abandoned, accruing graffiti and liquor bottles, until this spring, when the complex was demolished after a fire allegedly started by squatters destroyed one of the buildings on the site.

For Navarro, the closure meant bidding farewell to the restaurant she had operated with her mom, also named Maria, her dad Homero and her brothers Daniel and Junior. Homero and the elder Maria bought El Lucero in 2002 from its former owners. The elder Maria started working at El Lucero in 1990, after arriving from Durango, Mexico in 1989.

The family has spent the past four years scattered in different restaurants, working as cooks and waitstaff. When the spot in Woodlawn came available earlier this year, the Navarros jumped on it.

“It's so good to have everyone back together again,” Navarro said. “Our customers are our family, too, so seeing them is like a big reunion.”

The next generation is getting involved, too — Maria's 12-year-old son Alfredo busses tables and keeps the place clean.

El Lucero's reincarnation is welcome news to Francine Miller, who was a regular at the old location.

“It's so nice to have a good place to eat with really nice people running it who genuinely care about their business and customers,” Miller said. “We never found another place like it. I might have a slight addiction to their chips and salsa.”

The new location, though smaller, is no drawback, Miller said.

“It's lighter and airier,” Miller said. “It feels more homey.”

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