Mariachi bands and margarita pitchers for Cinco de Mayo? Well, maybe just the mixed drinks to go.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, local Mexican restaurant owners say they’re happy just to be open for Tuesday’s Mexican heritage holiday, as they fight for foot traffic and grapple with supply shortages and higher costs.
Several mid-Hudson Mexican establishments are either not offering Cinco de Mayo specials or they have just a handful of discounts, according to a review of websites, social media accounts and interviews.
“It’s imperative” that locals support restaurants on Cinco de Mayo, said Matt Sherry, executive chef of Hudson Taco in the City of Newburgh. “Some of the smaller guys may not come back from this (pandemic), and the restaurant industry is a huge employer for the Hudson Valley.”
Hudson Taco employees want the public to know “the margaritas are still flowing,” and they hope to do a brisk curbside trade on Tuesday, with popular dishes like their Korean BBQ short rib tacos, Sherry said.
Sherry, like other restaurants’ representatives, reported ingredient and supply shortages, especially for dairy and chicken, plus significantly higher prices from wholesalers.
Adam Monteverde, chef and owner of the Mexican Kitchen in New Paltz, said people thought he was “crazy,” when he “freaked out” and bought 8,000 to-go containers early in the pandemic. Now?
Other local Mexican restaurants’ employees say they’re struggling to get even basic supplies such as paper products for to-go orders. But they’re carrying on. At Frontera Tacos & Tequila, in the Town of Wallkill, customers can get a “margarita pitcher” in two large to-go containers normally used for soup.
“We go to Restaurant Depot, and they’re out of things, and it’s just very weird,” said Angela Nicolosi, whose family owns Mexicali Blue restaurants in New Paltz and Wappingers Falls. “My whole family is exhausted” running the business.
The Mexican Kitchen will mark its fifth anniversary under trying circumstances on Tuesday. Monteverde recently had to use cheese curds to make his own Oaxaca cheese.
“We’re grateful to have something to do, and we’re so grateful for all our guests,” Monteverde said. “This little restaurant will weather any storm.”
Renne Avalos, manager of the Taco Factory in Middletown, said he was especially grateful for foot traffic during the pandemic. Restaurant owners hope customers, who are often neighbors and friends, stay safe, he added.
“Everybody is living day by day, and so are we,” Avalos said. But, “We’ll all get through this together.”