El Rayo Cantina in Portland has been closed permanently so the land can be redeveloped into a parking garage, restaurant employees said Wednesday.

However, the adjacent El Rayo Taqueria at the corner of York and High streets will remain open for at least another year, they said.

On Wednesday night, the Scarborough Town Council unanimously approved liquor and food-handlers licenses sought by the restaurants’ owners, who hope to open a new Mexican taqueria and cantina in the town.

The planned Scarborough location is a former Cumberland Farms gas station and convenience store at 245 U.S. Route 1.

In August, the property owner from which El Rayo leases its space began taking steps to transform the property between York and Danforth streets into a mixed-use project with retail and residential space.

J.B. Brown & Sons owns more than three acres bounded by York, High, Danforth and Maple streets, much of which is now surface parking. The city in October approved a zoning change to allow it to build a parking garage in the center of the parcel, which was zoned as residential.


A concept plan submitted to the city shows a four-story building at York and High streets, with retail on the ground floor and market-rate apartments on the upper levels. A two- or three-level parking garage would be behind the building, with access from Danforth Street.

The property owner has said work on the redevelopment project is expected to begin within 18 months. That means El Rayo Taqueria would have to leave its current location in Portland sometime before late 2015.

J.B. Brown, which has developed much of Congress Street, Commercial Street, the waterfront and the West End since it was founded in 1830, has said there would be a place for El Rayo in the new building if it chooses to return. The restaurant’s owners did not respond to requests for comment.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:


Twitter: jcraiganderson

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