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Maria Elena’s in Alviso gets a side order of regulation

This is a column I wrote about Maria Elena’s having regulatory trouble and becoming a hot spot in Alviso in September of 2011.

Maria Elena’s is another Silicon Valley business at a crossroads.

No, not a Yahoo, should-we-sell-the-company, crossroads. Or a Hewlett-Packard, should-we-hire-a-new-CEO, crossroads (which seems like a weekly crossroads for HP).

See, Maria Elena’s is a bustling Mexican restaurant in sleepy Alviso — a restaurant that holds a special place in the high-tech ecosystem. It is one of those joints, like the old Wagon Wheel or the old Peppermill or the old Old Pro, where valley worker bees congregate to plot out everything from the next killer app to their weekend plans.

“It’s a serious tech watering hole for lunch, ” says Rudy Mueller, a regular who works for Juniper Networks, and whose beverage of choice is the bottomless Coke. “It’s like an icon.”

And now it faces the low-tech version of the “adapt or die” challenge so common to its customers.

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