McGinnis: Area restaurants prepare for Cinco de MayoWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In Mexico, the most significant holiday commemorating national pride is actually September 16 – Mexico’s Independence Day. May 5, on the other hand, is a relatively minor date on the calendar – it honors a great military victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, but is not nearly as widely celebrated.
But in America, honoring Cinco de Mayo has become a cultural tradition, a chance to pay homage to Mexican heritage in the vein of St. Patrick’s Day or Oktoberfest. Besides, any excuse to party is a good excuse, right?
In that spirit, several establishments all over the area are having events and theme nights to honor the occasion. If you’re looking for a place to celebrate the Mexican army’s heroic victory, here are a few good places to start.
At Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant in Maumee, the holiday has been celebrated since April with minor events and specials throughout the past few weeks. The festivities continue with discounted lunches, Monday, May 3 through Wednesday, May 5, as well as Happy Hour featuring margaritas. Wednesday will also feature live music.
Assistant Manager Bob Billardine said that Abuelo’s has sporadically celebrated the holiday over the past few years, not always of the staff’s own choice. “Sometimes we do, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes you make a lot of plans and the weather doesn’t cooperate this time of year.”
Napoleon Morales, owner of the Cinco de Mayo restaurants in both Bowling Green and Oregon, is obviously very passionate about the holiday, beyond being the inspiration for the name of his establishments. Mention the date and he becomes animated with the story of its history and significance, and it clearly means a lot for his business, which will have specials in both locations to celebrate.
“It helps us. We’re very busy those days — it’s big days for Cinco de Mayo restaurant. That day is a good day for us,” Morales said.
El Camino Real in Maumee doesn’t have a lot of holiday experience to draw from yet — that branch has only been open a month. But, like all the Camino Real restaurants in the area, it will be commemorating the holiday — the Maumee branch will feature food and beer specials, as well as a live Mariachi band.
Manager Raymond Martin said that he’s not sure why Cinco de Mayo is so widely celebrated in the United States, but he expects to be busy come Wednesday. “I think it’s an extra day to drink in their life,” he chuckles. “I never hear about celebrating Cinco de Mayo — in Mexico, it’s different than celebrating here and drinking.”
El Nuevo Vallarta on West Central Avenue advertises food and drink specials on May 5, as well as a party on their outdoor patio. A message was left for comment from the management, but the call was not returned before press time.
Bowling Green’s El Zarape restaurant, just across from BGSU’s football stadium, will feature discounted import beers and daily specials on Wednesday. General Manager David Olivarez estimated that business tends to pick up by about 20 percent on the holiday.
“I think people feel like they should celebrate a Mexican holiday, and they should express support,” he said. “And also, it’s an excuse to have a good time.”
Mi Hacienda Mexican Restaurant on Glanzman is having several special events on and around May 5. On Wednesday night, the first 300 customers after 4 p.m. will receive a Corona t-shirt, free of charge. And on Saturday, May 8, Mi Hacienda will hold a special, family-friendly event including a discussion of the importance of the Battle of Puebla.
Manager Sergio Angel said that they always expect a lot of business on the holiday. “It gets overcrowded,” he said. “A lot of people come to have a good time — they enjoy the food, and also sit down and have a couple drinks, too.”
E-mail Jeff at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.