"Looking forward to the next chapter:" La Perla Mexican Restaurant says 'adios' after 22 years

MILWAUKEE -- The doors will close for the final time at a Milwaukee restaurant many consider a landmark. Saturday, July 16th marks the end of a nearly 22-year run for La Perla's Mexican Restaurant located on the corner of S. 5th and National Avenue.

La Perla

When news broke earlier this week that the popular Walker's Point restaurant would be closing its doors for good, even long-time customers were caught off guard.

"Heard it last night on the news. I was, we were stunned by it," said Ann Goeden, longtime La Perla customer.

The owners announced they'd sold the property and planned to take the La Perla brand to specialty grocery stores. '

Saturday is the restaurant's final day.

La Perla

"In our minds we lasted 21 years longer than we thought we would. We're so proud, we're grateful, we're happy, we're a little tired and we're really looking forward to the next chapter," said JoAnne Anton, co-owner of La Perla.

JoAnne Anton

Anton and her husband launched the restaurant in 1995.

La Perla

"This was the restaurant right here, first ten tables," said Anton.

But the Mexican eatery soon became so popular they had to add on. And keep adding until they had room for 600 people.

"I think it's picked up the neighborhood a lot, it's brought more people together," said Anton.

Some longtime customers credit La Perla with bringing life back to the neighborhood. That's one thing Anton says she's proud of.

La Perla

"When we came here it was a quiet little corner, if there was anything going on down here I can't necessarily say it was all that great. It was sort of dark and industrial and so we feel we brought life to this neighborhood," said Anton.

La Perla

It's precisely because the neighborhood's doing so well, that the owners felt now would be a good time to sell the property and take their product to a new format.

"This neighborhood is thriving, it's booming and there are so many more good things to come as well," said Anton.

As for what business is going to be taking over La Perla's space, Anton wouldn't say. She says they want to let the new owners make their own announcement, in their own time.