BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A beloved and world-renowned piece of Bakersfield history has been sold — and is moving. The award winning Noriega Hotel is officially no more — at least not as we remember it.
Although you can still buy a piece of it.
Lovers of Basque food — and the unique Basque dining experience — mourned when the ravages of time, hastened by the Covid-19 pandemic, prompted the closure of the Noriega Hotel.
The Elizalde sisters, owners of the Noriega, whose modest consistency and honesty acquired fame endured across parts of three centuries, announced the closure April 24. They’re holding an estate sale this Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
But the Noriega name lives on. Mike Ladd whose wife, Rochelle, had been running the place with her sister Linda Elizalde McCoy since 1987, confirmed that the Noriega Hotel name, liquor license and phone number has been sold to a buyer who will re-open the Noriega elsewhere in the city.
That buyer is Bill Osathanugrah, owner of KK’s Cafe, on Golden State Highway, and Happy Wings, in the Town and Country Shopping Center at Coffee Road and Stockdale Highway. Osathanugrah said his daughter Ida would run the new Noriega’s restaurant, which he said he hopes can open “as soon as possible.” He said he is currently scouting for locations; one possibility is the former home of Cafe Med, 4809 Stockdale Highway, which closed last November after 28 years in business.
The Elizalde sisters’ grandparents, Juan and Gracianna Elizalde, purchased the Noriega Hotel in 1931. The hotel originally opened at that Sumner Street location in 1893.
But now everything at the old location is for sale — every chair, every plate — everything with one notable location: the bar and its back-bar.
Mike McCoy of the Kern County Museum told KGET that discussions are underway for that 1940s-era artifact to become a fixture of the Pioneer Village attraction at the museum, the trolley car room.
McCoy says the museum hopes to also purchase — through a third party benefactor — the iconic Noriega Hotel neon sign from the building’s owner.
It’s a safe assumption that the new Noriega will not have the boarding house style dining experience of the old Noriega because of Covid-19 spacing concerns.
And Basque sheep herders will almost certainly not be occupying the second story. What else will change? Surely not the pickled tongue, but we’ll have to wait to find out.