Maria Taylor opened El Sol Restaurant at 2444 E. Washington Street on March 26, 1978. The restaurant occupied the space where Francisco “Frank” and Axia Poventud had owned a Latin American grocery store for two years called Miami Market. Taylor closed El Sol de Tala in September 1979.

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Javier Amezcua, 2015 Credit: Robert Scheer, IndyStar View Source

Later that year, Javier Amezcua reopened the restaurant, calling it El Sol de Tala and Market. Amezcua had come to Indianapolis indirectly from Tala, Jalisco, in Mexico, in 1972, previously working in Los Angeles and Chicago before moving to Indianapolis. He initially worked in the construction industry before entering the restaurant business. His menu for the restaurant featured traditional Mexican dishes, which he advertised as “the most authentic Mexican Restaurant in town.”

This advertising strategy directly targeted competitor Acapulco Joe’s Mexican Restaurant, the city’s first major downtown Mexican restaurant. Acapulco Joe’s featured Tex-Mex style Mexican food, a version of Mexican food originally adapted to appeal to the palate of Texans of Spanish or Mexican descent.

El Sol’s claim to being the authentic Mexican restaurant in Indianapolis extended beyond its menu items. The restaurant was decorated with folk art shipped from Mexico. A stuffed (taxidermy) burro carrying a sombrero greeted patrons as they entered the front door. A huge fountain that depicted a Pueblo scene stood at the center of the restaurant. Mariachi bands wove through the venue, serenading diners during meals. Above all, Amezcua placed a large painting of the Lady of Guadalupe in the dining room and Yucatan region specialties highlighted the menu.

Finding success in the first restaurant, Amezcua embarked on a series of expansions. He opened a second El Sol de Tala location in the Arena Hotel at 401 E. Washington Street, across from Market Square Arena in 1981. Circa 1995 Amezcua opened a third El Sol de Tala location at 86th Street and Ditch Road on the north side of Indianapolis. Both of these locations were short-lived.

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A taxidermy burro carrying a sombrero greeted guests at the doorway of El Sol de Tala, 2015 Credit: Robert Scheer, IndyStar View Source

Despite these setbacks, the original El Sol on E. Washington Street location thrived. In 1999, Amezcua expanded that venue to accommodate seating for 300 patrons. He also opened an El Sol de Tala Express on the northwest side of Indianapolis at the northeast corner of Lynhurst Road and W. 10th Street, which did not last long. Union Station became the home of the final El Sol. It opened in 2003, a year after the Mexican Consulate opened its offices in the former train station.

The financial burden of opening and shuttering three locations while continuing to run another two venues proved financially destabilizing. Amezcua filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for his two remaining locations in 2005. He eventually closed the E. Washington Street location for renovations in early 2006 and permanently closed the Union Station location in December 2006.

With the opportunity to reorganize his business under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Amezcua entered a business partnership with Ruben Pazmino. Pazmino retained a 51 percent majority ownership in the business. The two continued renovations at the E. Washington Street location. Amezcua found himself pushed out of his own business due to disagreements over business style and menu items.

Numerous legal battles over ownership of the El Sol name, restaurant equipment, furnishings, liquor license, and building ensued between Pazmino, Amezcua, and real estate company 2444 Acquisitions from 2006 through 2014.

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El Sol de Tala/Javier’s Hacienda, 2015 Credit: Robert Scheer, IndyStar View Source

At one point in March 2008, Amezcua leased the E. Washington Street El Sol from 2444 Acquisitions. El Sol de Tala reopened with Amezcua and a new business partner Ramon Michel. The two added a tequila bar to the venue. In 2014, 2444 Acquisitions filed for bankruptcy protection. Amezcua emerged with ownership of El Sol de Tala, however, he did not own the rights to the name.

Undeterred, Amezcua and Michel changed the name of the restaurant to Javier’s Hacienda. They closed the restaurant a year later in 2015. Amezcua returned to Mexico where he died in 2020. A fire destroyed the vacant El Sol de Tala restaurant on E. Washington Street on December 28, 2022.

Revised May 2023
 

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