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The Armadillo Tex-Mex Cafe closed temporarily in November for remodeling, but announced this morning that it will not reopen.
"It was a very hard decision to make," said owner-operator Terry Harvey, 45. "It's really hard to say good-bye. We have been stalling people about reopening. A restaurant is a big commitment for a family to make for all these years."
The 'Dillo has been a downtown institution for 17 years at 431 South Franklin St. It is known for its relaxed atmosphere as well as its nachos and tamales. It also served Thai dishes and home-brewed beer and once hosted a regular comedy club and concerts by local musicians.
"Originally I thought five or 10 years, and all of a sudden it's 17," Harvey said. "Now I will be able to spend more time when my family: My partner Cindy, and our twin sons, Nolan and Ryan, who are just turning 8 years old."
Harvey said his family recently took a three-week trip to Texas to visit relatives - "The longest trip we have ever been able to take since the boys were born."
"It's hard to get even a week off," Harvey said. "We've been discussing closing for some time, but during our vacation we had an opportunity to reflect on things that are happening all over. We decided we should not put things off in our lives, and strive to do new things."
Harvey, active in the founding of the pro-tourism group Destination Juneau, said the downturn in the national economy and tourism and the flat local economy "played into the decision" to close, but the need for more family time was the real deciding factor.
The next step is a big liquidation-garage sale. Commercial operators can tour the restaurant from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., beginning Thursday. Former customers are invited to come by and browse for souvenirs beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday.
"You can take a piece of the 'Dillo home, including decor," Harvey said. "Anybody who is really sentimental might want to take a chili bowl or a plate home, for a reasonable price."
He has not been looking for someone to take over the cafe, he said. The Armadillo employed four full-time "core people" year-round, plus four part-time staff during the winter, and eight part-timers during the tourist season, he added. Harvey does not own the building.
Harvey can be reached for details at 586-1880.