In the coming weeks, La Sierra Mexican Restaurant & Cantina will open its doors on Springbrook Road, the fulfillment of a dream for 30-year-old Rigoberto Lopez — a Newberg native who is excited about opening up a restaurant in his hometown. Lopez owns another restaurant of the same name in Sheridan and his father started the original La Sierra in Forest Grove more than two decades ago.
But another La Sierra has been around for nearly as long, located along Highway 99 in Dundee. Lopez's uncle, Victor, opened his restaurant after the Forest Grove location and has served the community of Dundee ever since. Now, Victor Lopez is expressing frustration over his nephew's opening, emphasizing that their restaurants are not affiliated in a letter to the community.
"While the name is similar this new restaurant is not part of the 'La Sierra Mexican Grill & Lounge' that has been part of this community for the past 20 years," Victor Lopez wrote. "We are honored to be part of this community and grateful to all of our customers who have continued to support us during this very challenging time.
"We remain dedicated to our local community in every way. We will continue to support the community groups as we have in the past and intend to be right here, in Dundee, for many years to come."
Victor Lopez ended the letter by referring to his restaurant as "the one and only 'La Sierra Mexican Grill & Lounge,'" which is true in terms of the exact full name of the restaurant, but it is far from the only La Sierra in the Willamette Valley owned by a member of the Lopez family. It is unclear what sparked Victor's frustration with his nephew opening a restaurant, but Victor's lawyer John Bridges (of the Newberg-based firm Tarlow, Bridges & Palmer) contacted this newspaper on March 18, and said his client was considering filing a cease-and-desist order.
Rigoberto Lopez said he'd prefer not to comment on the matter, but had previously commented on his uncle's "temper" while expressing confusion about the dispute.
"I just don't want to stir up any kind of drama with this," Rigoberto Lopez said. "I'm just trying to open up my restaurant, give back to the community where I grew up, and take care of my family. This isn't what anybody needs right now with how tough it is for small businesses."
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