After several years of flirting with selling her business in the face of rising property taxes and increased competition, Maria Corbalan has sold Maria’s Taxo Xpress, the iconic taqueria at 2529 S. Lamar Blvd.
Corbalan, who moved her restaurant to the property in 2006 after originally opening on an adjacent lot in 1996, has sold the land to an unnamed local investment company, according to her real estate agents at CBRE, which intends to "find the perfect tenant for this iconic location."
Corbalan told the American-Statesman that even she does not know the name of the buyer, but that she is under the impression the space will be developed into a "nice restaurant."
The sale is slated to be finalized in early November, according to a news release. According to that release, real estate firm Weitzman Group is representing the buyers. The Statesman has asked the Weitzman Group for the name of the entity that's purchased the property.
"I’m mentally appreciave of all the love I received when I was down and when I was high," Corbalan said by phone. "I’m leaving sad, but I’m leaving happy, because I’ve met so many friends and supporters and beautiful people."
Maria’s will continue to serve takeout and patio dining through the end of the year. The name of the restaurant will live on, as Corbalan said she will pass the name and the restaurant’s equipment on to her employees of 20 years. She said she has already purchased a trailer in hopes they can continue the legacy elsewhere.
"When I came to Austin from Argentina as a young girl, I fell in love with this city and its people. My restaurant has allowed me to touch so many lives over the years, and for that I am incredibly grateful," Corbalan said in the release. "The best gift the community can give me is supporting my employees on their new endeavor."
Corbalan told the Statesman that she intends to sell all of the art and memorabilia from the restaurant in the coming months.
"Everything is for sale," Corbalan said.
That Includes the massive statue of Corbalan that sits on the site, which was constructed by local artist Michael Peschka.
"My house is not big enough for her," Corbalan said.
Maria’s has always been more than a taco stand, serving as something of a de facto community center, a home for fundraisers, live music, political meet-ups and the groovy, music-filled "Hippie Church" on Sundays.
"I have worked very hard as a woman in this city," Corbalan said in the release’s statement. "When I started my restaurant in 1997, beginning with a small food trailer, I never imagined how I would be able to give back to my community and brings smiles to faces with Hippie Church and food made from the heart."
The restaurant is one of the few remaining pieces of "old South Austin" (along with businesses like Saxon Pub, Matt’s El Rancho and the Broken Spoke), and it drew the support of the community when a wave of change hit South Lamar a decade ago.
Corbalan closed the original Taco Xpress in 2005 to make way for a Walgreens, but the pharmacy ponied up for a new space, allowing Taco Xpress to move about 100 feet to its current building in 2006.
Corbalan said she had previously been under contract to sell the land in 2017 before that deal fell apart; the property went back on the market last year.
"Maria’s Taco Xpress has been a staple of the 78704 community for more than 24 years, first as a food truck and then as the restaurant we all know now," CBRE first vice president Bradley Bailey said in a statement. "We were glad to find a locally based buyer who will bring the next phase of this location to life."
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