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Eatery Deal Is Gone, Gone, Gone

The winning bidder for El Matador in Costa Mesa has backed out. The restaurant will go on the auction block again this month.

June 01, 2005|David Reyes | Times Staff Writer

A Newport Beach engineer who bid $535,000 for a landmark Costa Mesa restaurant auctioned by the county nearly two weeks ago apparently has had buyer's remorse.

Xavier Bengoechea, 33, the highest bidder for the El Matador restaurant on Harbor Boulevard, has backed out, it was announced Tuesday, and could lose his $15,000 deposit, said John S. Williams, county public administrator.

"I don't really know why he didn't complete the sale, but maybe he had buyer's remorse," Williams said.

Bengoechea could not be reached for comment.

The county auctioned the restaurant May 19 after its owner, Marcial Gallardo, died in June 2003 and management was turned over to the county by a probate judge amid a family squabble. The Gallardo family had owned it for nearly 40 years and cultivated a loyal clientele.

The eatery was appraised before the auction at $690,000.

One of those loyal customers was Bengoechea, who said after the auction that he was fulfilling his dream of owning a restaurant.

Although he has reneged on the deal, he is not off the hook. The deposit he paid to participate in the auction remains with the county until further notice.

If the restaurant is sold for less than the $535,000 that he bid, he also will be liable for the difference, Williams said.

One of Marcial Gallardo's sons, Cesar Gallardo, has said he might try to reclaim the restaurant on behalf of his mother, who divorced the elder Gallardo years ago.

The county will auction the restaurant again June 16.

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