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Elite Café Closes Its Doors Once More

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Nearly a hundred years after first opening its doors, the Elite Café will be closing them. The announcement comes as a bit of a surprise to the community and to staff.

One manager – who spoke to KWTX under anonymity, said employees were instructed not to talk about the closing. The Elite – which has remained a Waco fixture on the traffic circle - is reportedly closing due to economic reasons.

The Elite Café – originally owned by George and Michael Colias, immigrants from Greece – opened in 1919, when the two brothers purchased the dining spot. Originally located in downtown Waco at 608 Austin Avenue, the Elite Café’s traffic circle location opened in 1941.

After the aftermath the 1953 tornado, the downtown location struggled to remain opened and closed in the 60s. But the traffic circle location remained a popular destination.

In an interview with the Baylor Institute for Oral History in 1994, George Colias talked about the Elite Café surviving during the Great Depression.

“We survived, stayed in the business but it was very difficult, very difficult. For one thing, we always loved to help somebody, feed him, if he needs it. But it got to the point that it was coming in on a line, not just one, fifteen or twenty on a line, and look what you saw funny – I’m talking about a little bit rough. Other wise, you gave them something to eat or what. It was very bad," Colias told the Institute for Oral History.  

It’s a popular belief that Elvis Presley, while a private stationed at Fort Hood in Kileen would dine at the Café.

The brothers eventually sold the restaurant, when in 1986 they faced a decline in business and vast renovation costs. Texas restaurateur David Tinsley purchased it for a reported 1.3 million dollars.

But history has a way of repeating itself, and in 1999Tinsleysold the restaurant to its most recent owners the Ford Group, who closed the elite yesterday.

Copyright 2020 KWBU. To see more, visit KWBU.

Carlos Morales is the full time KWBU News Reporter. Originally from El Paso, Texas. Carlos moved to Austin in 2007 where he studied English at UT. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in 2011. In 2013 he received his Master’s degree in journalism also from the University of Texas at Austin. Carlos had in internship at the NPR affiliate in Austin, KUT and freelanced for several groups including the Voces Oral History Project. Carlos enjoys running, reading, listening to music and – most importantly — playing uncle to his niece and 2 nephews.