Changes at popular eatery

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The Azteca Restaurant on Historic Main Street in Garden Grove has been sold.

Former owner JJ Jauregui sold it to new owner Jennifer Stewart on June 16, 2014.

Both Elvis and the Azteca, which is full of Elvis memorabilia, have followers. As proof, the place was packed Thursday evening, Oct. 9, as Elvis tribute artist Joe Bullock sang his way through an hour of favorite Elvis songs, receiving hugs from patrons afterwards.

The Azteca Restaurant on Historic Main Street in Garden Grove has been sold.

Former owner JJ Jauregui sold it to new owner Jennifer Stewart on June 16, 2014.

Both Elvis and the Azteca, which is full of Elvis memorabilia, have followers. As proof, the place was packed Thursday evening, Oct. 9, as Elvis tribute artist Joe Bullock sang his way through an hour of favorite Elvis songs, receiving hugs from patrons afterwards.

Jauregui was on hand for Bullock's show and said he still goes to Azteca for special occasions such as the Elvis tribute artists and a Sinatra tribute artist last month.

Azteca loyalists are asking why he sold the popular eatery.

"I sold Azteca after 22 years because I needed a break," said Jauregui. "Being a runner, I had a way to relieve stress, but I still needed more, so I wouldn't lose my health."

He said he still feels part of Azteca because he's a Garden Grove resident and stills loves Main Street. Although he sold the restaurant business, he still owns the actual building so has become the landlord for Azteca Restaurant.

Jauregui said the customer service at Azteca is outstanding and that the dining room is staying the same with the new owner.
"My Aunt Connie bought the building and was here for 12 years before I took over. It's been a good 22-year run and it went by in a flash. As I watched all of these people grow up and have families of their own, these were the best years of my life."
"I love the new owners; we have a nice relationship and I feel fortunate to have found them," he added. "I hope people still come and visit the restaurant because Jennifer is keeping the recipes, the entertainment, the karaoke and all of the promotions."
Although it features spectacular entertainment,  Azteca is primarily a restaurant, with a bar. In both areas, Azteca staff continue to serve the excellent Mexican food for which they've become known over the years.
What's next for Jauregui? He's currently selling a lot of his Elvis memorabilia from the bar on e-Bay and from his personal collection at home. The Elvis memorabilia will remain in the dining room to ensure continuity for the Elvis fans who have come to love this bonafide tourist attraction.
Joe Bullock was the Elvis tribute artist for the show on Thursday evening; he's been singing at Azteca for two years and been doing the Elvis tribute for four years.
"Originally, my mom was a huge Elvis fan and so I grew up around Elvis music and fell in love with it," said Bullock."With my age and look, I fit the 60s and I also do the 70s. The outfit I wore tonight was the same outfit Elvis wore in 1968 in his comeback TV special that aired in December of 1968 when I would have been 2-years-old and my mom was playing that music."

Stewart said people were shocked and concerned when Azteca's changed owners.

"This iconic restaurant has been part of the community for years," she said.  "I've often come to the Friday car show and karaoke myself and understand their reaction. People frequently ask, 'Are you getting rid of Elvis?'" Her reply: "Certainly not. I love Elvis too so Azteca will continue to celebrate this gifted performer."

Stewart said the dining room won't change because countless people love Jauregui's Elvis memorabilia and changing that would disappoint them.

When asked, "Whatwill change?" Stewart explained that, "Small changes arenecessary for survival and the challenge is balancing opposite needs – honoring tradition while adding things to attract new people. Our lounge has never been strictly Elvis so it will gradually be updated with a broader range of retro music memorabilia."

She said Presley, Sinatra and Martin will share the spotlight with the Beach Boys, Beatles and Pink Floyd. "Everything blends with our retro Elvis dining room," she said.

Stewart said she spent many hours talking to Azteca patrons for opinions on what they want on the walls. 

"Azteca is thought of as 'The Mexican Restaurant with all the Elvis memorabilia'  but the new direction in our lounge is reflected in our live entertainment.  We primarily featured Elvis tribute artists but the future brings an assortment of fantastic performers," Stewart said. "Of course, we are a Mexican Restaurant first and foremost and as our food continues to evolve we are getting great feedback. If you don't have yummy food, it won't matter who is on your walls or singing in your restaurant."