New life for the historical building that housed Cafe Sevilla in Riverside

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(This article was written by Jack Katzanek published by the Press Enterprise on November 4, 2019)

Nine months after Cafe Sevilla shut down in Riverside, the 90-year-old building that housed it has reopened as an events venue.

The business is called Avila’s Historic 1929, in honor of the heritage of the 13,000-plus square-foot facility at 3252 Mission Inn Ave.

“We’re bringing it back to its historical condition so that all of Riverside can enjoy it,” said Naomi Avila, who also owns the Tamale Factory on the Main Street Pedestrian Mall with her husband Charles.

Naomi Avila said she had been looking for a way to expand her banquet capacity at the restaurant when the Cafe Sevilla property became available. Charles Avila acquired it in May and they have been renovating it since then. They are using the entire space, divided into three sections: Legacy, the area that used to be the restaurant’s dining room and mezzanine; Ensueño, the nightclub area; and Portico, an upstairs patio.

One of their first decisions was to lighten the color scheme of the nightclub.

“When my husband bought the property, it was completely black. … This place was remodeled so the young people in our community could use it for awards banquets. We cleaned up the stage and brought in two Steinway pianos.”

The first event, a kickoff for the Miracle on Main Street holiday toy drive, was scheduled for Wednesday evening.

Avila’s Historic 1929 is a standalone business with food service provided by Tamale Factory and other caterers, Naomi said. The building originally housed a showroom for farm equipment. It was a project of architect G. Stanley Wilson, whose nearby works include the 1923 Riverside-Arlington Heights Fruit Exchange, now home to Heroes Restaurant & Brewery; the 1928 Riverside Municipal Auditorium; and the 1926 facade of the Stalder building, which is being preserved in a mixed residential and commercial project that is under construction.

Wilson is also credited with a wing of Corona High School, and a Mission Revival home featured on the HGTV/DIY series “Restored.”

After a series of retail tenants, Cafe Sevilla opened in the building in 2000.

For nearly 20 years, it entertained guests with Flamenco shows, tapas, and the nightclub. That came to an end over the winter, months after a fight at a Halloween party in the nightclub led to a shooting in the parking lot and in the venue with seven injured people, according to police. The Avilas said they don’t have any concern about safety in the neighborhood.

“Our city is wonderful, and they’ll do everything possible to keep the community safe,” Naomi Avila said.

The new events center is on the corner of Mission Inn Avenue and Vine Street, near an onramp to the 91 Freeway. It shares a parking lot with El Patron restaurant, housed in a 1904 train depot. El Patron originally opened in 2015 and recently reopened under new ownership.