Jose (Joe) Artiach, owner of Basque Block mainstay Leku Ona died earlier this month.
Artiach died of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to his obituary.
Leku Ona, which translates to “good place,” opened in 2005 at the corner of Grove St. and 5th St. in Downtown Boise, and became an anchor of the Basque Block. The building, constructed in 1905, features a bar/lounge, formal dining room, outdoor patio and five boarding room-style hotel suites.
With his wife Miren, the multi-pronged business was their brainchild and passion. He told Joh Bieter for the book Becoming Basque opening Leku Ona stemmed from his love for Basque cuisine. But another, more tactical reason helped get it off the ground.
“(It was) the opportunity downtown to have a full-service Basque restaurant and bar on the corner of the Basque Block.”
According to a 1993 oral history given to the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, Artiach grew up in the Basque Country and served in the Spanish Army. He owned a trucking business for decades before launching Leku Ona.
“The Basques here have a strong will to preserve our culture,” Artiach told Sun Valley Magazine. “This is especially true for many people who came from oppression in the Basque Country.”
Joe Artiach was 74.