By Srianthi Perera

With its beach-like feel, colorful Mexican memorabilia and the multitude of photos and newspaper clippings of local celebrities of yesteryear stuck on the walls, Guedo’s Cantina Grille used to be a popular haunt in downtown Chandler.

Folks who were saddened when the restaurant closed last December after a 30-year run, may be heartened to hear of its reopening in Gilbert, on Pecos Road close to Highway 202.

The new Guedo’s Taco Shop has a new owner—Justin Erickson, who used to be a frequent diner at the Chandler spot and a friend of William Samora, the man who built and expanded Guedo’s over the years.

“When he told me he was closing the old location, we started talking. One year later, here we are,” said Erickson, a Chandler resident who grew up in Gilbert. “I’ve always wanted to build a place of my own and when this came up, it was something that I was really passionate about. I loved the old place and I couldn’t see it go away.”

Samora is staying on as a consultant.

Guedo’s Taco Shop is 3,400-square-feet and situated in a strip mall near the Chandler-Gilbert Community College, San Tan Motorplex and a few residential developments.

The restaurant is the same size as the earlier one, not counting the outside bar in Chandler. And it’s minus the sand because everything is indoors, although the design tries to bring the outside in.

“The kitchen’s a lot larger and more modern; we went all state-of-the-art, brand new,” Erickson said.

The menu is the same as what was offered at Guedo’s, with the addition of a kids’ menu. The kitchen staff is unchanged, too, hence the taste of the food remains the same.

It serves the “best tacos on earth,” offers a cantina-like atmosphere complete with palm leaf beach umbrellas suspended from the ceiling, walls containing casual décor and a bar.

Most of the décor were retrieved from the old Guedo’s. “We saved everything we could off the walls, but after 30 years, a lot of them became a part of the wall…We have boxes of stuff that we’re going through,” the owner said. “We’re hoping to make new memories as we go.”

Erickson is no stranger to the restaurant business. He has been working in restaurants since 14 and worked his way up the ladder from busboy to dishwasher, cook, server, bartender and manager. He also is trained in restaurant management and opened two previously.

He and his wife Courtney have three children; Mia, 9, Reagan, 6, and Brock, 2.

Guedo’s Taco Shop is at 3107 S. Gilbert Road, Gilbert. For details, call 480-621-8280. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.