Feb. 22, 2011 08:59 PM

La Fonda's Gabe Bako has been absent for weeks. By Leslie Turk

The conspicuous absence of what was once the most visible face at La Fonda is leading to lots of questions - and very little answers.
Gabe Bako is no longer managing the iconic Tex-Mex restaurant.

In his book, The Spirit of La Fonda, restaurant founder Leebob Cox writes of choosing Bako as his successor in 1996; Cox died in February 2008. At some point in time, Bako was cut in as a 50 percent partner, sharing ownership with Cox's two children, Sherwood and Stephanie. Sherwood, whom Cox hoped would one day take over, has since moved out of town, and it now appears that Stephanie is in charge.

"The status is that he's on vacation," longtime Office Manager Pat LeDoux said of Bako in a brief phone conversation Feb. 16. "There's not much we can say right now." With Stephanie in the room while the interview was taking place, LeDoux added: "Things are out of our hands right now."

Bako could not be reached for comment.

For more than five decades, La Fonda has managed to maintain a loyal following among the city's movers and shakers. Bako's departure, if permanent, is certainly a blow to its rich tradition.

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