Not too long ago, a cushy Cal-Mex burrito joint opened in the heart of Keong Saik; a restaurant that opened to little fanfare with very slow days (they only made $129 on their opening day). They only broke even eight months later and only achieved $1 million in annual revenue another seven. But five years on, Muchachos has become the go-to for when you have a crazy craving for burritos. All that’s about to change come Mar 15 though, as they prepare to bid adieu to their Keong Saik home.
Muchachos was born out of pure frustration in June 2013. Founder Jonathan Yang told us back then that quality Mexican food was something Singapore was sorely lacking, despite the interest always having been there. With pretty much everything on the line—Yang used a big sum of his savings, coupled with bank loans to open the restaurant—a humble beginning meant sailing through bad days before seeing the bling bling roll in, which only happened more than a year later.
They quickly became the talk of the town, and it became near impossible to get a seat at dinner. The ease of ordering was something that resonated well with diners, not to mention the great quality of their modest selection. It was simple—you either go for a burrito, taco, quesadilla or burrito bowl, and then pick and match the ingredients you’re after; their pollo asado (chicken thigh grilled over an open flame) and carne asada (skirt steak seared medium rare with a pink center) were easily crowd favorites, as well as off cuts like lengua, which Yang said is a “highly prized menu offering” among informed burrito/taco aficionados.
Alas, we need to collectively come to terms with the impending closure next week. Their reasons are very practical, and somewhat promising in a way. A rep from the joint said that their lease was ending and that they felt Keong Saik was “no longer working for [them]”. That obviously raised eyebrows, especially since there’ve been rumors going around that they might actually be moving to Tanjong Pagar, instead of shuttering for good. When asked, the rep simply said, “Stay tuned to find out”.
We’re hopeful. The outpouring of cries and desperate, futile pleas online, as well as chatter in the wind, is definitely a sign of customer loyalty and—dare we say—unwavering love, for the Cal-Mex restaurant. If you’re feeling melancholic, drop by Muchachos on Mar 15 for their final shift and gulp down on $1 beers with every purchase of a burrito, quesadilla or taco to help you cope with this new reality.