- January 7, 2016
It’s stood along Fairbanks Avenue next to the train tracks for 30 years, but on Saturday, June 24, PR’s Taco Palace poured its last margarita.
One of Winter Park’s most well-known eateries shut down recently as PR’s turned its “open” sign to “closed” one last time. The Mexican joint was known for its fajitas, pollo fundido and signature “train shots” — only a dollar whenever a train went by.
“It’s an old building, and we’ve been there 30 years,” owner Perry Inman said. “We’ve had a lot of fun there. I don’t know how many bottles of tequila we served out of that thing, but it was a bunch.”
The end of Winter Park’s graffiti-covered taco haven was a combination of factors, Inman said, adding that the biggest reason had to do with their parking being drastically reduced. Blake Street, located just behind the restaurant, was shut down because of its close proximity to the SunRail train tracks — a safety measure by the Florida Department of Transportation.
That road held the majority of PR’s parking — the restaurant went from 30-35 spaces to just eight, Inman said.
“Our biggest downfall was parking,” he said. “In this day and age, everybody drives. I don’t hold any ill feelings. I had a great time.”
The increasing number of restaurants in the area was likely a culprit too, Inman said. One study by the city presented at a recent parking summit last month said 1,400 restaurant seats have been added along Park Avenue since 2003.
“In the last couple of years, there’s been a dozen restaurants that have opened up in Winter Park,” Inman said. “The slice of the pie gets thinner and thinner.”
But Inman said he recognizes PR’s had a good run. He first opened the Mexican restaurant on Nov. 19, 1987, when he was just 27 years old. He used recipes from his great grandmother, who owned a Mexican restaurant in Houston.
Today the 58-year-old, self-proclaimed “redneck from Alabama” said he’s made countless friends and treasured memories during PR’s run.
“I met a ton of people,” he said. “I’ve got a dozen friends of mine that met and got married there. Thirty years is a pretty good run for a restaurant. You have to say, ‘It’s time.’ It’s kind of like kicking your kids out of the house. It’s time to move on.”
PR’s still has a second location, which opened in March 2016 in College Park. Inman said he’s unsure whether he will open another location.
“My lady friend and I haven’t had a day off together to sit by the pool,” Inman said. “My ankles and knees tell me, ‘You got to go home.’”