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New life at citys busiest intersection
Old Long John Silvers goes south of the border
The long-vacant Long John Silvers will house the third location of La Estrella Taqueria. - photo by HIME ROMERO

One of Manteca’s dining destinations is going from fish fry to a Mexican menu.

After being an eyesore for about a decade, the one-time Long John Silver’s at North Main and Louise Avenue is going south of the border. Manteca city officials confirmed Thursday that the long-vacant corner restaurant will be home to the third La Estrella Taqueria in Manteca.

Construction crews are already at work renovating the building that was boarded up for approaching 10 years at Manteca’s busiest intersection where more than 37,400 vehicles pass each day.

The new La Estrella Taqueria will open for business “in two months” according to one source close to the business but asked not to be identified. Another source said the restaurant could have a grand opening on Halloween.

Francisco Salvador, the owner of the three La Estrella dining places, could not be reached for comment on Thursday. He is also the manager of the La Estrella restaurant in the shopping center anchored by the Dollar Store and Grocery Outlet on East Yosemite Avenue.

The second La Estrella Taqueria opened about five years ago in the Raley’s shopping center on East Lathrop Road and North Union Road.

The restaurant’s newest location will feature a drive-thru, the first of the three locations to offer that service convenience. By doing so, La Estrella is simply taking advantage of the old Long John Silver’s existing feature.

Employees at both Mexican restaurants who were interviewed said the new dining branch will feature the same menu selections that they currently offer.

Suzanne Clements with the Manteca Convention and Visitors Bureau applauded the transformation that’s taking place at one of the prime business locations in Manteca.

“Good! I think it’s important that we continue to develop in-fill businesses at these prime locations in town” instead of just developing “new things,” she said.

“I’m glad we’re not forgetting these in-fill projects such as the one at the corner of Main Street and Alameda,” Clements added.

She was referring to the demolition of the old Beacon Service Station and Fred’s Beer House which, like the old Long John Silver’s, have stood vacant and boarded up for several years. This southeast corner of North Main and Alameda Street is being leveled to make room for a new F&M Bank branch.

As for comments about Manteca being inundated by Mexican cuisine outlets in light of the old Long John Silver’s being taken over by La Estrella Taqueria, Clements offered a different take on that.

“Yes, it’s another Mexican restaurant, but there are so many styles of Mexican food. And those that are good are going to do well,” she said.

“From a city aspect, that corner (on North Main and Louise Avenue) has been empty for a long time, as well as the corner on Alameda. It’s really important that we have these in-fill (projects) at these prime locations so that we don’t have a situation that we have downtown right now where we have many empty things,” Clements added.

Customers who have left comments on their dining experiences at the two La Estrella Taquerias speak highly of the food at both locations. One comment reads: “Comida Autentica! I stopped in at Taqueria La Estrella (on Yosemite Avenue) on my way to San Jose from Yosemite. I was just looking for a snack and ended up having a fabulous plate of tender juicy carnitas. It was fresh, fantastic food!! They have the best salsa bar I have ever seen… with roasted peppers, jalapenos, radishes, 8 kinds of salsa, you name the fixing and it was there. They have an all-you-can-drink Mexican beverage soda-fountain. After going there I have been back twice. The atmosphere is relaxing and clean. The people are really nice. It’s worth a try.”

The restaurants are open seven days a week. At the Yosemite Avenue location, the hours are 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. The dining place at Raley’s is open until 10 p.m.