KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Whether they’re new or well-established, every local business needs support, and for Latino-owned companies, that should extend well beyond just one month.

At Lilly’s Cantina in Kansas City, owner Teresa Grado wants it to feel just like grandma’s house.

“That’s exactly what I wanted for you to feel — at home, for you just to be able to relax,” Grado said.

She said every morning she makes everything fresh, from scratch. From the fresh chips to the homemade salsa, Grado takes pride in her authentic recipes.

And there’s pride in her journey to get here, too.

“As a child growing up, I was a bad kid … We got into a shootout, so I was one of those kids. I was the kid that you didn’t want your kid to hang around with,” Grado said.

But she turned her life around.

“I named the business after my mother,” she said of Lilly’s Cantina. “I wanted to make her proud.”

It’s stories like Grado’s that inspire many people to support Latino-owned businesses during Hispanic Heritage Month.

“We’re going to try to find out other local businesses that we can support, and we kind of do a video and share it,” said Omar Diosdado, a local business supporter.

But Pedro Zamora, executive director of the Hispanic Development Corporation, encourages more in the KC metro to throw their support behind Hispanic business owners — not just for a month but all year round.

“The Latino culture is relevant 12 months out of the year, 365 days,” Zamora said. “We’re a big part of the economy. We’re a big part of our social and we’re a big part of our cultural enrichment of our city, and that’s what makes KC such a wonderful place to live.”

Lilly’s Cantina has only been open for 10 months, but the community’s support has been critical to its survival.

“The future for Lilly’s is to franchise it because I feel like everybody should get a taste of this,” Grado said.

And unique experiences and stories of Hispanic culture in Kansas City resonate with us all.

“We want to support that,” Diosdado said. “It’s a hard journey to get here, to be able to do all this, and I think it means a lot to them and we want to honor that.”

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