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Gordito, we hardly knew you

I was one burrito away from getting a free one at Gordito’s, and I was really looking forward to it.

Unfortunately for me, my stomach, my colleagues and the Mount Vernon area of Baltimore, Gordito’s Cafe, at 336 N. Charles St. has closed after having only been open for a couple of months.

The anticipation for a “homestyle” Mexican restaurant opening half a block from The Daily Record’s offices was immense (at least for me it was). I mean, who doesn’t love a good burrito?

They redecorated the space — inside and out — painting it with bright yellows, oranges and greens, which stood out from the other earthy-colored buildings on the block.

But a few weeks ago, a small paper sign appeared on the glass windows stating that Gordito’s would be closed temporarily until further notice due to personal family issues. A couple of weeks after that, a giant “Lease/Sale” sign appeared, covering most of the storefront.

My heart sank. OK, well not really. But I was disappointed.

And whether or not Gordito’s closed due to family reasons, it has become a small part of a large, unfortunate statistic: the high rate of failure for small businesses.

According to the U.S. Small Business Association, only seven out of 10 new small businesses survive two years, five out of 10 make it at least five years and only a third last 10 years.

Perhaps an even more striking statistic is that the number of small businesses opening has decreased over the past several years, while the number that have closed has gone up. In 2005, 644,000 small businesses opened and 565,000 closed. In 2009, 552,000 opened and 660,000 closed.

Worse still, the number of small businesses that closed due to bankruptcy surged between 2006 and 2009, more than tripling in that time.

But no matter the reason for Gordito’s going down, it cannot escape its final resting place: part of a statistic in the U.S. Small Business Association’s 2010 business closure figures.

Unfortunately, to me, Gordito’s was more than a statistic. It’s where my boss used to take me to eat and talk about work; it’s where I could get an authentic Mexican Coca-Cola in a bottle; and it’s where I racked up almost enough burritos to get a free one.