No Definite Date Set El Portal Mexican Restaurant to Open Soon
Renovation of the former Wheeler Inn along South Highway 75 in Auburn into El Portal Mexican Restaurant started in early December.
The Auburn location will be the fourth Mexican restaurant of the family-owned enterprise, said Rosa Giffee, who will manage the Auburn location.
“The renovation project of the facility is coming along nicely. We’re excited to get the restaurant opened,” Giffee said.
Plans are to open by the end of January. No exact date was set, she said. When the opening date is set, it will be noted on the electronic sign outside the restaurant.
The first El Portal Mexican Restaurant, along South Highway 75 in Nebraska City, opened in May 2005. The Shenandoah, Iowa location opened in 2006. The Glenwood, Iowa location opened in 2009. Giffee said that all three locations are doing well.
She said that since a lot of customers at Nebraska City are from the Auburn area and northwest Missouri, that motivated the management to expand to Auburn. Giffee also said that Mexican food is increasing in popularity.
Giffee is from Jalisco, Mexico. She lived in California 10 years. Giffee moved to Missouri and worked one year in a restaurant. She worked four years at a restaurant in San Antonio, Texas. Giffee said that she then decided to open her own restaurant. That brought her to Nebraska City.
Her husband, Tom, who originally is from Dawson, is a Nebraska state trooper.
The kitchen is being expanded. The kitchen will use natural gas instead of electricity. Natural gas is used at all four El Portal Mexican Restaurant locations.
The entrance will be through the north door.
A wall at the main entrance was removed. The main entrance will have a different setup.
Some areas will be repainted. There will be new booths and seating areas. Booths will be added where keno was. There will be no keno at El Portal Mexican Restaurant.
There will be a banquet room.
The awning at the south entrance will still be used. The restrooms are being renovated.
The building was originally built in the 1960s. Several additions were added over the years.
The menu is identical to the El Portal Mexican Restaurant in Nebraska City.
“There is a wide variety of items. The menu is so big,” Giffee said.
It includes: appetizers, salads, vegetarian items, 17 combinations, fajitas, steaks, chicken, burritos, enchiladas, seafood, house specialties and quesadillas. There is a lunch menu. The children’s menu includes quesadilla, taco, burrito and taco, chicken fingers, children’s nachos, a Mexican hamburger and a corn dog. Side items are available, including tortillas, jalapenos, Mexican rice, and refried and charro beans. A la carte items are also available. There will be a full bar.
Take out orders will be available. Catering will be available.
She said that the renovated building will need to be inspected by representatives of several agencies before opening. That includes the fire marshal, health inspector and building inspector.
El Portal Mexican Restaurant, Auburn, hours are: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays.