It broke my heart when I read Sedalia Democrat reporter Faith Bemiss’ story about the imminent closing of Sedalia’s own Patricia’s Mexican Restaurant. I hate to see any Sedalia business shut down, especially a restaurant institution like Patricia’s. We keep losing eateries like Eddie’s, Wheel-Inn and McGrath’s only to see their place in the local market filled with chain restaurants.
But there’s another reason why I’m sad to see Patricia’s go. I haven’t written a whole lot about my mother in this column over the years but there is one thing that you need to know about her for the sake of this column: Patricia’s is one of her favorite places to eat. When we did go out to eat we frequently found ourselves at Patricia’s, so while I was growing up I developed a healthy appreciation for their blend of American and Tex-Mex offerings.
Sure, Patricia’s might not be as “authentic” as some the other Mexican restaurants in town. Yeah, maybe the refried beans aren’t the shape or consistency that you were expecting. Most of the food stuffs that we categorize as Mexican would be largely unrecognizable to the average person who resides south of the border, anyhow. Every Mexican restaurant in America has to sacrifice at least a little authenticity just to serve us some of the things that we expect to see on their menu.
Patricia’s menu has steaks, chicken, potato skins and fried pickles. My favorite appetizer is a relatively new offering, Jalapeno Raviolis, but don’t take my word for it, because I’m a sucker for just about anything that’s jalapeno-flavored. In a way, it’s the perfect fusion cuisine for a Mexican restaurant in Missouri. St. Louis is the home of the toasted ravioli so it’s a no-brainer to fill one with cheese and peppers. All right, so it’s probably hard to mess up just about any combination of cheese and dough.
It’s a good looking restaurant in an aesthetic sense — just a side glance at Patricia’s will tell you that it’s a Mexican restaurant. I like the metal cactus. I like the logo featuring a parrot in a sombrero sitting in a margarita glass; it looks good on a shirt. I like the mural of historic Sedalia sights on the back wall, including a picture of the restaurant itself. I heard you liked Patricia’s so we put a Patricia’s on your Patricia’s so you could look at Patricia’s while you’re inside Patricia’s.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not faulting Patricia’s owner Gary Farr. He’s worked hard for a long time now, and it wouldn’t be fair of us to expect him to provide an avenue for serving food at our leisure until we say otherwise. But it’s sad he can’t find someone to take over operation of the restaurant.
It’s kind of an old-fashioned notion, but it used to be that parents would pass their profession down to the next generation. You get the kids interested in the family business early so maybe one day you can pass it down to them. But in this modern age of unlimited information and sky-high aspirations it’s easy to say no. Maybe they think they can do better, maybe they feel as though they need to go out and earn a career somewhere rather than being handed one.
But then again, nobody should be forced into a life path based just on what their parents did.
So add another restaurant model under an acrylic glass box to the Hall of Defunct Sedalia Restaurants, because soon Patricia’s will be Mexican & No More.
Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column.