When La Casa Del Rey closed unexpectedly in September after 33 years in business in Commerce City, it left many unanswered questions, as well as confused loyal customers. As it turns out, the owners of the building, Ernie and Nancy Atencio, had sold the property, and the restaurant closed with the sale. But other family members had actually been running La Casa Del Rey, according to the Atencios' nephew, Jesse Trujillo, and now they're bringing the restaurant back.
According to Trujillo, his mother, Tammy Hernandez, had been managing the restaurant for the past fifteen or sixteen years, and she has worked out a deal with the building's new owner to rent the restaurant space and reopen La Casa Del Rey.
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After the restaurant closed in September, Hernandez launched the Gilly's food truck (named for former Casa Del Rey public relations manager, Gilly Atencio), serving green chile, burritos and other Mexican dishes based on the same recipes used at Casa Del Rey. Many of those recipes originally came from Reynalda Atencio, Ernie and Gilly's mom. While the family will continue to operate Gilly's, Trujillo notes, it will also run La Casa Del Rey, serving the same menu that guests have come to love over the years, minus a few items that were not big sellers.
"It's a family business — me and my two brothers and my mom and stepdad," Trujillo says. His brothers are Josh and Jon Trujillo, and his stepdad is Javier Hernandez, the restaurant's head cook.
The family hopes to reopen La Casa Del Rey on December 1, pending the completion of paperwork and final sign-off from Commerce City.
So if all goes according to plan, customers will be back at their favorite tables and everything will return to business as usual at 7035 East 72nd Avenue, where warming green chile has smothered many a burrito and relleno since 1986.