BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – After being on the market for close to a year, Vel’s Amigos, the iconic Fort Madison Mexican restaurant will go up for the highest bidder.
According to Corey Fraise of Fraise Auction & Real Estate, the auction will begin on Monday and run through August 22.
“This has been one of the most successful, family-owned restaurants for generations in Fort Madison,” Fraise said. “We’re excited to help them make sure it transitions smoothly.
Liza Garcia, whose family started the current location in 1983, said after a year being on the market the family decided to pursue an online sale instead of looking at another six months of listing.
“We discussed it and kind of just said let’s flip a coin and this is the way we decided to go,” Garcia said.
The restaurant, located at 1226 36th Street in Fort Madison, was started by Daniel and Ophelia Garcia in 1983 after they branched off from El Zarape’s where they had started with the Guzmans in 1973.
She said the restaurant is selling turn key with everything being sold except some memorabilia on the walls.
“We spent many years creating our recipes and building this reputation and we’re turning it all over. It’s our hope that the buyers try to hold onto the traditions and the experiences that people have been getting here for generations,” she said.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have a good business with the people of Fort Madison. And it’s not just Fort Madison. We have people who come from all over the region.”
She said they have customers from Galesburg, Keokuk, Quincy who make the trek regularly for the unique dining experience and family recipes.
According to Fraise’s website link to the sales, “Vel’s Amigos is one of the area’s most successful & popular dining establishments. After 33 years of operation, the sellers wish to retire and offer this profitable business to new owners. This sale is being offered as a turn key package and will include the real estate, all of the fixtures, and restaurant/ bar equipment. The business currently operates six days a week, has ample parking, and is located along Business Hwy. 61. The owners are willing, as a condition of the sale, to stay on for an additional 30 days to assist the new owners and get them introduced to their customers and vendors.
The family has set a reserve, or minimum, on the selling price through the auction. Garcia said if the bid doesn’t go over the reserve, then they’ll have to take another look at their options.
The online auction site can be accessed by clicking on the following link: http://www.fraiseauction.com/auction/317654/turn-key-restaurant-bar-auction-opportunity/
Garcia said although the family is looking forward to retirement, she will miss the faces of the customers.
“I’ve literally watched some of these kids grow up,” she said. “And now I see them come in with their kids and ask the kids if they want some Mentos. I joke with the customers that today’s kids don’t like the Mentos, but we’ve sold a lot of Mentos over the years…and a lot of margaritas.”