A couple intends to open a Mexican restaurant on a sliver of land near downtown Casper that has defied annexation from Natrona County into the city for more than a century.

Casper City Council on Tuesday approved on first reading a resolution to annex, zone and plat 844 E. First street, which will be known as the La Hacienda Addition.

La Hacienda ("large estate") also is the name of the restaurant owned by Octavio and Haydee Cuevas that was in the Shilo Inn in Evansville until a year ago when the new owner didn't want a full restaurant.

Since then, the Cuevas  and a real estate agent had been looking for property where they could prepare and serve their authentic Mexican cuisine, Octavio said.

"We have what's more traditional than Tex-Mex or anything like that," he said. "We try to be a home-made, family-type (restaurant)."

City of Casper

Then they found this 0.471-acre lot at First Street and Collins Drive hidden in plain sight.

While it's in the heart of the city, it technically isn't in Casper.

City records dating to 1900 show the land was part of the Capital Hill Addition, which platted surrounding land but not this lot. There was a "Railroad Street" -- this area was the end of the line for railroad tracks -- that traversed the property. A quit claim deed in 1970 from the city to the Northern Railway Co., included this property. The Chicago and Northern Railway Co., later conveyed the property to Wyoming Publishers. It was most recently the location of the Five Star Realty office, which was demolished recently.

But it was never part of Casper, according to city documents. "While the property in recent history has had a City address, it was discovered that the subject property was not zoned or platted, and records suggest that this property was not under City jurisdiction."

View of the property facing west from Collins Drive to First Street.                                                  Tom Morton, Townsquare Media


The city's planning office urged the owner and the Cuevas to go through the formal process of annexation.

They did their due diligence and made their application for annexation. The city council will hold two more readings of the resolution before the annexation is complete by early April.

Then construction can begin, Octavio said.

"We're hoping to start in May, four or five months at least," he said. "Hopefully, we can open this year."