KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Wednesday was Cinco De Mayo, a day marking a key Mexican victory in battle over France. But for most people in America, it’s a day to eat Mexican food and perhaps enjoy a margarita.
Kansas City celebrations didn’t look quite like they did a couple years ago, but certainly different than last year when no gatherings were allowed. 2020 was a struggle for all restaurants, but especially for locally owned ones, which most Mexican Kansas City restaurants are.
“Considering last year all we did was deliveries, not even deliveries, just curbside pickup to now we’re having people inside and appreciating the rooftops and patios, it’s been completely different,” Teocali co-owner Enrique Gutierrez said.
At Teocali and Margaritas on Southwest Boulevard, people could still dine inside, but they utilized outdoor spaces for DJs pumping up larger gatherings than the restaurants have seen in more than a year.
“I think 2020 was a bad year for a lot of people, and I think a lot of people are ready to get back to what normal would be. This might be the first step toward that come this summer hopefully a lot of people are getting vaccinated and enjoying their freedom to get out and do those things,” customer Missy McCandless said.
“That’s what it’s about, getting back to normal. It’s been a struggle for all of us. Everybody, all of my employees, everybody,” said Mike Quirarte, Margarita’s general manager.
Reduced capacity limits were just lifted, but even on the holiday, Margaritas is still operating at 50% capacity, both for safety and because like many restaurants right now, they don’t have enough staff.
“It is a struggle. I had to call my mom and dad in for reinforcements,” Gutierrez said.
As people return to gatherings, Mexican-Americans hope its also a step in the right direction of unity.
“Getting to know the culture is important, but getting to know the people is more so. So stop by your favorite Mexican place and get to know the people,” said Edgar Galicias, executive director of the Central Avenue Betterment Association.