My first impulse for writing a column welcoming the 20-teens was to do a retrospective on the 20-aughts. But rather than a list of trends, restaurants and chefs that made that decade interesting, I decided to discuss a single story that took almost the entire decade to come together. That's the story of Laredo's Mexican Restaurant, which now is the story of Casa De Los Milagros Mexican Restaurant.
After five years and two contractors, the enormous hacienda on N Classen Boulevard is open for business but with a new name. But after all he's been through, owner Julian Gonzalez doesn't care what the place is called as long as people come in for a visual and flavorful tour of Mexico. Halfway through the aughts, Laredo's co-owner and general manager, Julian Gonzalez, whose bloodlines connect him to the city's first Mexican restaurant chain, El Charro, and its spinoff, El Charrito, thought he'd hit the jackpot. Chesapeake was in the midst of buying up property around its campus, and Laredo's was in the target area. Though the transaction meant the end of the old location on NW 63 and its lovely patio, it did leave Gonzalez and his father, Pepe, with significant cash. After careful consideration, the family decided to reopen its second restaurant. The first restaurant was Pepe's in Edmond, which opened in 1986. Early estimates in 2005 were for the new doors to open in six to eight months. Those estimates were a little off. Laredo's wouldn't open at 5111 N Classen Blvd. until fall 2009. That's not a typo: five years. For most of those years, the gigantic blue sphere that sits atop the restaurant peered over the Interstate 44 railing, causing passers-by to wonder whether it was going to serve cheap enchiladas on Wednesdays or launch toward Mars to search for signs of life. Though countless restaurants opened and closed during Laredo's hiatus and many people wondered whether it ever would open, open it did in September. And just as quickly as it breathed the sweet air of life again, Laredo's was gone forever.