Churrasco Portuguese BBQ & Steak House on Springfield Avenue will be closing its doors at the end of the month with plans to open a new location elsewhere in the area.
After being unable to come to a new lease agreement with their landlord, Churrasco owners Ed and Maria Mourato and Joe and Roselia Ferreira are hoping to find a suitable location in the Maplewood Village or in nearby Millburn, as soon as possible.
“We’re sad about it of course,” Maria Mourato said. “We’ve been trying to tell our customers as they come in, especially more recently now, because they deserve to know what’s going on.”
She added that Maplewood Mayor Victor DeLuca has been helping out, suggesting possible new locations, but so far they haven't had much luck.
Churrasco will close its Springfield Avenue location on Aug. 24 to put its equipment and furniture into storage and wait to move into a new location. The Mouratos said they do not believe they will have a new lease agreement elsewhere by that time.
Although the Mouratos have their eyes on a Millburn Avenue location in Millburn, they said they would prefer to stay in Maplewood.
“This is where we began,” Maria Mourato said. “If something comes up in the Village, we’ll jump on that first.”
“It’s a shame that we’re moving out of here,” Ed Mourato said. “The town itself loses and Springfield Avenue loses. It’s not going to be easy for [our landlord] to rent this space… In my opinion, he's making a mistake; he had good tenants.”
Ed Mourato said that if the Millburn Avenue location pans out, ideally, he would open in early November. He added, however, that it is hard to be certain without a new lease in hand.
Churrasco's owners have had legal disputes with their landlord over the past year regarding repairs to the building. They said they were offered a new 10-year lease but declined due to a significant increase in their rent and property taxes.
“We want to downsize a little,” Ed Mourato said of the move. “We don’t need to be [in a space] this big again.”
A chef by trade, Ed Mourato moved to the United States from Portugal to work in restaurants at age 18. When he opened Churrasco in 2006 with his wife and in-laws, he put together the menu of traditional Portuguese and Spanish cuisine with an American twist.