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July 20, 2024
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Milias Restaurant shuts its doors

Popular restaurant was a fixture of downtown

The Milias Restaurant, a cornerstone of downtown Gilroy’s dining scene, has permanently shut its doors.

Owners Adam Sanchez and Ann Zyburra announced the closure on Facebook Sept. 1, thanking the customers and staff who supported the establishment that opened in 2011 at the corner of Monterey and West Sixth streets.

“We hope that you have some great memories of the times that we shared at the Milias,” the post read. “We made some wonderful friends and worked with some amazing people. We will miss each and every one of you.”

A sign on the front door of the Milias states the restaurant has been closed since Aug. 30, and directs leasing inquiries to the number of the property manager of the upstairs apartments.

In an interview, Sanchez and Zyburra said the declining number of customers led to the difficult decision to close the restaurant.

“We noticed business was dwindling, and we noticed our ability to serve our guests was suffering,” Zyburra said.

Sanchez said the 2019 shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival hit not only the Milias hard, but other businesses in the city, as people found it difficult to go out and have a good time in the aftermath of such a traumatic experience.

But business recovered and bounced back to normal levels by early March 2020, Sanchez said. However, soon after the Covid-19 pandemic hit, with state and county orders forcing restaurants to shut down.

Sanchez said the many people they’ve met over the years at the restaurant have become like family, adding that the restaurant never turned away an opportunity to support a charity.

“It’s been a really, really fun journey,” he said. “We love Gilroy. We’re big supporters of downtown.”

The Milias Restaurant was a go-to place for Gilroyans, hosting various special events and live music performances throughout the years. It also was a favorite among downtown diners for its menu of classic and comfort fare in a Western-themed setting, along with its signature horseshoe-shaped bar.

The William Weeks-designed building at 7397 Monterey St. was constructed in 1922 as the Milias Hotel, owned by Yugoslavian immigrant George Milias Sr. In addition to the 60-room hotel, the Milias Restaurant and Steakhouse opened on the ground floor.

The restaurant has been known as The Milias throughout its existence under various ownership, with the exception of being named Harvest Time for a period.

The restaurant and hotel has welcomed notable names such as Clark Gable, John Wayne, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Will Rogers and comedy duo Abbott and Costello over the years.

Sanchez and Zyburra reopened the Milias in June 2011, and marked 10 years of operation in 2021 with an acknowledgement from the Gilroy City Council as well as Assemblymember Robert Rivas.

News of the restaurant’s closure took many longtime customers by surprise.

Gina Hallick of Gilroy posted on Nextdoor that she and her husband celebrated his birthday at the Milias when they first moved to the city.

“It was our introduction to downtown Gilroy,” she wrote. “I’m wondering if someone will take the space over and start a new restaurant? It would be a shame to lose the history and that beautiful horseshoe bar.”

Many musicians posted on social media, saying their performances at the Milias opened the doors for their musical careers.

Jeff Smith wrote on Facebook that he performed many nights at the restaurant and enjoyed watching other musical acts play in front of “the big window.”

“I’ll miss the waiting handshake of Adam greeting you every time you came in, the great food, the great camaraderie,” he wrote. “Best of luck in your future endeavors, Adam and Ann—you know the community will continue to be behind you, in whichever direction you choose to go from here.”

Sanchez and Zyburra, who have been in business together for nearly 40 years, through running an auto dealership and catering business before owning the restaurant, both said they are trying to figure out their next steps.

Zyburra noted that she’s hopeful a new owner will come and reopen the Milias.

“Hopefully someone will come into that space and take over the guardianship of it,” she said. “I’d like to see people embrace downtown, not just for the special events, but make downtown special by being here.”

Erik Chalhoub
Erik Chalhoub
Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.

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  1. I am very sad to hear from the closing. To show my German family the place on the bar where John Wayne used to sit was always a highlight of their visit lol. My heart goes out to the owners of the restaurant and the staff. I wish all of them that better days will soon come and pray for them. The Milias indeed has been a welcoming place and cornerstone of Gilroy which without Garlic Festival has disappeared from the world’s attention. All our visitors will sadly notice now are the giant homeless camps allover town.

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  2. The menu was always changing and we enjoyed many beautiful dishes, but food quality became terribly inconsistent. Seeing one of the owners publicly berate a favorite server spelled the end of our patronage.

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  3. Sad. I haveb’t been there sincemoving to AZ but I remember it well! Started going there in the late ’60’s. SO much history attached to the location. I hope someone can revive it!

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  4. Loved the Milias. Our high school graduation was not official unless your date took you to the Milias for dinner (50/60’s). I met Jack Elam and his wife, Barbie there when a friend and I interrupted their dinner to get his autograph. (80’s) Loved the specialty concoctions by long time bartender Gus. Lots of memories and I hope it reopens intact!

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