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Beloved Chico’s Tacos restaurant shuts its doors, leaving Tri-Citians hungering for more

Chico’s Tacos, a popular Kennewick restaurant, at the corner of Clearwater Avenue and Columbia Center Boulevard closed Saturday after 22 years in business.
Chico’s Tacos, a popular Kennewick restaurant, at the corner of Clearwater Avenue and Columbia Center Boulevard closed Saturday after 22 years in business. Tri-City Herald

A popular Kennewick taco destination known for its carne asada tacos, fish tacos and fresh salsa bar has closed after 22 years in business.

Chico’s Tacos, also known as Chico’s Tecate Grill, at the bustling corner of Clearwater Avenue and Columbia Center Boulevard closed Saturday, leaving a vacancy in a high profile location.

The Mexican restaurant posted a simple notice on Facebook: “After 22 years, we have decided to close our doors. Thank you so much for your loyal support and patronage of our small, locally owned family business.”

The company declined to talk with the Herald on Monday about the decision. By then, nearly 500 fans had taken to Facebook to bemoan the loss and to wish the Chico’s team well.

“I didn’t actually keep track, but pretty sure I ate somewhere around 300 barbecue chicken burritos over the years!! Heartbroken!!!!!,” wrote one fan.

“So sorry to hear. Thank You for 22 years!” said another.

Restaurant struggles

Chico’s failed its routine March 22 inspection by the Benton-Franklin Health District’s food safety team, but by a slim margin to trigger a re-inspection.

However, it fared worse on an April 24 follow-up inspection.

The inspector noted among other issues there was no-one in charge during the inspection and a second follow-up was planned in May.

Its closure leaves an empty restaurant space at one of the more prominent intersections in Kennewick.

Chico’s Tacos owns its 2,800-square-foot building but leases the land from Sammamish-based Rainier Agriculture LLC, which is led by Thomas Lin.

Lin called the business a partnership. He was informed of the plan to close on Thursday. Since then, he said, he has been inundated with calls from people who are interested in the corner. Any future use of the property will be in partnership with Chico’s, he said.

“We are not parting ways,” Lin said.

Lin bought the property in 2017 and leases the ground to Chico’s.

Chico’s built the fast food building, including drive-through, in 2000. At nearly 20 years old, it is almost fully amortized or written-off. That means that if the right tenant comes along, the building could be demolished to make way for something new.

Lin said it’s too early to speculate what might happen. He said it’s possible Chico’s could even return after a break.

The building is in good condition, according to Benton County property records.

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