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Heliodoro Ponce Jr. prepares a potato, onion and chorizo dish in the kitchen of La Perla Mexican Delicatessen on Nevin Avenue in Richmond, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012. The Ponce family, who have run the restaurant since 1949, say that they'll close for good either when the building is sold or at the end of the year, whichever comes first. (D. Ross Cameron/Staff)

RICHMOND -- The popular Taco Tuesdays finally gave way to the inevitable Farewell Friday at La Perla Mexican Delicatessen, a presence in the city's changing downtown since 1949.

Word got around that the business would be closing at the end of the day Friday, and a line of customers filled the corner store until the last taco was dished out.

"Listen up. Listen up. I have no more chicken. I'm out of rice, I'm out of beans," Dolores Ponce Bonds announced in the afternoon, saying La Perla would keep serving until the food was gone.

"Thank you for 65 years," she told them.

"It's going to be devastating," said longtime customer Renee Owens as she stood in line. "I don't know what I'm going to do without it."

The closing was far from a surprise. The family announced in August 2012 that it planned to sell the building at the corner of Fourth Street and Nevin Avenue and close by the end of the year.

Instead, the Ponce siblings, the children of the deli's late founders, Mary and Heliodoro Ponce, kept the business going for another 21 months.

The recent death of a sister helped convince the remaining siblings it was finally time to retire from the business.

Asked whether it was a difficult day, Bonds choked back tears and said, "Yeah, it is. This is my home. I was born and raised here."

As for what she will do next, Bonds said, "Sit and think about it awhile. Take care of my grandchildren and enjoy."

Bonds' niece, Stacey Jojola, called the final day "bittersweet," as she rang up customers at the cash register.

"We're on the third generation now," she said. "That's a lot longer than most businesses last. I think we're one of the last original businesses left in downtown."

The building was sold within the past week, and the papers were signed Wednesday, she said.

As for whether another taqueria will open in the space, Jojola said, "As of right now, no. If it reopens, it's going to be different," and the La Perla name will stay with the Ponce family.