Fork & Fingers restaurant closes after 41 years in downtown Mansfield
Adrian and Lupe Gaytan weren’t quite ready to shut down Restaurant fork and fingers On Monday.
“I can’t find any help. It’s been difficult,” Adrian said Wednesday of the family-run Mexican restaurant.
He has been with the company for 41 years.
“I want to thank everyone for the beautiful 41 years of activity. We have met so many beautiful people, great customers. I wish I could thank everyone face to face, unfortunately it cannot be done. I have had to go out of business because of this COVID-19. When we first closed for 13 weeks I took a huge hit and never really got over it, but I really, really enjoyed serving people and having many, many friends. On behalf of all of us at Fork & Fingers, we want to thank each and every one of them, ”he said.
Adrian Gaytan said he was putting the building at 54 Park Avenue West on the market.
Changing of the guard in 1999
In 1999, there was a changing of the guard at Fork & Fingers restaurant, with the second generation running the business.
The new owners were the Gaytans (Adrian and Lupe) and Mick and Cindy Stewart. Adrian and Cindy are the children of the late founder of Fork & Fingers, Dick Mau, who has retired.
Mau and his wife, Barb, owned the restaurant until 1999.
“He wanted to spend time fishing on Lake Erie,” Cindy told the News Journal in 1999.
Mau started Fork & Fingers in Mansfield in 1980. He previously owned a Fork & Fingers in Ravenna, which he sold in 1982.
“He’s been in the food business for almost 30 years,” Adrian said at the time.
Adrian Gaytan started working in the Mansfield Fork & Fingers when it opened. Cindy Stewart joined the team in 1993. She moved from Chicago to open a Fork & Fingers in Willard in 1985. She sold it in 1993.
Lupe Gaytan has been a Fork & Fingers waitress for 40 years.
Emotions run high when it comes to closing a Mexican restaurant
Adrian was moved as he spoke of the business closing. He said he would probably take time off until the end of the year and then start looking for a new job.
The business was his life’s work, he said.
Adrian left Mexico in 1978 with the idea of working temporarily in the United States before returning to his native country. But after a few years of working long hours in the food business, he decided to stay and try to open his own restaurant.
“I wanted to do something on my own,” he said. “And the hard work didn’t scare me,” The News Journal reported earlier.
Lupe came to this country at the age of 12 to live with an aunt and uncle in Galleon after her father died. She took English lessons at the Lutheran Church in Mansfield town center, traveling from Galleon on the bus that took students with disabilities to their classes.
And she worked.
“I worked anywhere and everywhere to make money,” she said, “Retirement homes, car washes, whatever.”
The couple met at the restaurant in 1980 and married soon after. Lupe became a citizen in 83, Adrian in 95.
They have two grown sons, Adrian and Ivan.
“We love Mexico, but we are very happy and proud to be citizens of this country,” Adrian said. “It gave us more than we could have anywhere else. Of course we worked really hard, a lot of stress, but it’s the best country to live in.”