By Mark Hopper
My family and I are very sad to say “Goodbye” to an old friend. Actually the friend is not a person but a restaurant in Diamond Bar. The word began to circulate this week that the Whole Enchilada restaurant is closing. It has been a part of our family for 30 years.
On one of our first visits to Diamond Bar in1988, we were taken out to lunch by some church families to the Whole Enchilada. We enjoyed the food and the warm atmosphere. Little did we know then that we would become frequent guests over the next three decades.
As our children grew up, we would often celebrate their birthdays at the Whole Enchilada. For many years, they offered a free meal and dessert to guests on their birthday. They would let the birthday guest wear a large Sombrero and the waiters would sing “Happy Birthday” (“It’s the Whole Enchilada and we are here to say…”). They would take a Polaroid photo, too. We could probably fill a whole wall in our house with those birthday photos from the Whole Enchilada.
I still remember the day when we were at the Whole Enchilada and learned that one of our daughters was pregnant. She lived out of the area but she asked one of her sisters to take us to “the Whole” and present us with a small gift – a pair of baby shoes. Then she called to tell us that she was pregnant with our first grandchild!
We have enjoyed many meals with friends, neighbors, church members and out of town guests. Whenever we asked ourselves, “Where should we eat dinner”, the answer was always the same – the Whole Enchilada! We live so close we could actually walk there. It has been part of our family for many years.
We were able to go to the Whole Enchilada one last time before they closed. It was packed! People were standing outside waiting for an empty table. We saw a number of old friends and neighbors. It was like a reunion with current and former residents gathered one last time to enjoy the food and fellowship at Diamond Bar’s most famous restaurant.
Managers and waiters were personally expressing their thanks to loyal customers and customers were expressing their thanks to the staff, too. At the end of our meal, several of us stood up and invited fellow guests to join in singing the famous Whole Enchilada Birthday song one more time. It seemed like a fitting way to honor and express our thanks to our old friend.
Pastor Mark Hopper
Efree Church of Diamond Bar
3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd
Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM