June 16, 2024
Fate of restaurant that hosted Will Rogers, Clark Gable and other luminaries over the decades is unknown

The Milias, the landmark Gilroy restaurant that long ago hosted such famous customers as Will Rogers and Clark Gable, has closed its doors, a dozen years after a local duo returned the downtown icon to its former glory.

Two signs on the ornate door tell the story. One encourages residents to keep businesses like this alive. “SHOP SMALL. SUPPORT RESTAURANTS,” it says. Underneath is taped a new notice that reads, “The Milias Restaurant is permanently closed since August 30, 2023,” and lists a phone number for leasing inquiries.

“We hope that you have some great memories of the times that we shared at the Milias,” co-owners and friends Adam Sanchez and Ann Zyburra told customers on Facebook in announcing the shutdown, according to the Gilroy Dispatch.

Sanchez and Zyburra had been business partners before becoming restaurant partners. But the two, who worked together for years in the car dealership business — he as owner, she as CFO — had maintained a healthy culinary rivalry on the side. Around 2007, these self-taught chefs joined a catering company, then decided to take the leap with an eatery of their own. They checked out restaurant spaces from San Francisco south, always coming back to the Milias (which was then known as Harvest Time).

“This place kept calling our name,” Sanchez told the Mercury News at the time.

They renovated and relaunched the Milias in 2011, nearly 90 years after the current building was constructed in 1922, and 116 years after Yugoslavian immigrant George Milias Sr. first opened a chophouse on the site. He was the first of three Georges in a Milias political dynasty that stretched from Gilroy to Sacramento to Washington, D.C.

In the decades after U.S. Highway 101 was built through town, the William Weeks-designed Mediterranean Revival hotel and restaurant — located on nearby Monterey Highway at Sixth Street — attracted its share of famous customers, especially those driving between San Francisco and Los Angeles. According to Milias history, in 1934 the famed humorist Will Rogers ate dinner at the horseshoe-shaped bar and spent the night at the hotel above, and actor Clark Gable ate twice at the restaurant in 1945.

In later decades, “the Milias Hotel became a mandatory stop for every politician seeking votes in Southern Santa Clara County,” the late Mercury News political writer Harry Farrell wrote in a 1986 article.

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It was in those elegant black-and-cream dining rooms where executive chef Sanchez served steaks, chops, seafood, pasta and seasonal dishes. As a frequent culinary competitor at the Gilroy Garlic Festival and a 2001 Cook-Off winner, he sometimes added garlicky specialties to the menu during festival season.

“We made some wonderful friends and worked with some amazing people,” Sanchez and Zyburra wrote. “We will miss each and every one of you.”

This is a developing story. Come back for updates.