Hundreds line up to say goodbye to a Utah Mexican drive-thru

Hector’s Mexican, in Millcreek, announced it was closing after Saturday, because of staff shortages.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Hector Uribe poses for a photograph outside the drive-through window at Hector’s Mexican Food in Millcreek, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022.

After 27 years in business, a Mexican restaurant in Millcreek is closing its doors on Saturday — and fans on Friday flocked to have one last meal there.

Hundreds of customers drove to Hector’s Mexican Food, at 2901 E. 3300 South in Millcreek, to tell owner Hector Uribe how much they will miss his namesake restaurant (which some customers once knew as Molca Salsa).

Uribe said Friday that the lines at the drive-thru were so long that the average wait time was 2 hours and 45 minutes.

“Some people waited that long,” Uribe said. “A couple of people, they texted and called me and said, ‘We have to go, we have got to be with our family, with our kids.’ It was amazing. We’re so proud of that, and grateful for all the support we have in this community.”

Uribe posted a notice in the restaurant’s window this week, telling regulars about the closure.

“We have made the decision to close our doors due to the fact that we cannot find enough staff to work,” he wrote. “So this Saturday will be our last day. We will miss you all dearly and again thank you for all of your support.”

People posted the notice on social media platforms, prompting others to post their reactions.

One Facebook user, listed as Marron Gard, suggested the family start a food truck, and launched the hashtag #savehectors. “We can’t lose this lovely family business,” the post continued. The user also posted several photos of the tacos and burritos they bought Thursday evening.

Another Facebook user, Braydon Johnson, called Hector’s the “best Mexican food in the state for over 20 years.” He also called Uribe “a saint, and has had some of the best customer service, food quality, prices, and environment of any food establishment I’ve been to. … Go give Hector your love. The man deserves it.”

“I’m working through the stages of grief with the news this week of Hector’s closing,” Jon Larsen, transportation director for Salt Lake City, wrote on his personal Twitter account. “Some restaurants are truly part of the fabric of a community. This is one of them. They were on our Christmas card distribution list!”

Larsen’s comment drew a response from writer and outdoor advocate Katie Boué: “A tragic loss for Millcreek and all of SLC but I heard Hector said he needs a break, and well shoot, he deserves one.”

Uribe said he doesn’t have any plans yet for what he’ll do next, “but don’t discount that. We might pop up in the area eventually, in the near future. So there might be something like this again, but for the moment we’ve got to close the doors. Hopefully we open again in the near future. … We’ll be back.”