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Local businesses see a Cinco de Mayo economic boost coming out of a slow winter

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - With a cold and wet start to the year, the need to rebound for Mexican restaurants comes with a boost from the Cinco de Mayo celebration.

The date of May 5, marks a turning-point victory by the Mexican Army over French soldiers in 1862 in the battle of Puebla, and while that historic fact is sometimes forgotten, the financial impact in modern times can not be overlooked

Many specials on food and drink will be offered today for those searching out a Cinco de Mayo special event or just enjoying the special time.

You may see some sombrero-wearing customers, but those in the Hispanic community recognize both the historic importance and the financial importance.

This is also a time to unify communities with non-Hispanic and Hispanic residents coming together.

That business boost from the Cinco de Mayo holiday is just what many of our Central Coast businesses need right now..

Restaurant customer Elise Aquilon said,  "I did know it was Cinco de Mayo but my mom works just around the corner so I came to visit her for her little lunch break - both we come here (Los Arroyos) a lot. This is one of our favorite restaurants to go to."

   The Los Arroyos location in downtown Santa Barbara has been there 24 years.   Cinco de Mayo specials include $5  margaritas and $5 crispy tacos, and they are expected to be the big draw.

Many customers know the workers, some by name and families,  and have supported them for years.

Los Arroyos Manager Lesli Borrayo said, "la familia Arroyo. That is how we feel. La familia Arroyo yeah.  Like family to me, this is like to me our second home and customers are familia." She said the daytime is always busy but it is especially crowded in the evening until they close at 9 p.m.

At lunch, inside and outside tables were full and many to-go orders were getting bagged up.

  The grills at Maiz Picante on De La Vina Street went on in February.   With 25 seats it's a newer, local hole-in-the-wall and word of mouth recommendations along with Instagram posts have brought in the neighborhood.

The location was a former bakery.

Restaurant customer Tony Martinez said,  "it is really well done.  The food is phenomenal. The staff is well trained it is really nice."
   He knew it was a special day but also wanted to try out the new restaurant.   "It is a great day  that is actually why we came out,  for Cinco Mayo.  Actually didn't realize they had margaritas so we had a couple of margaritas."

He said there were many special touches to his order that he could see, and he also has a restaurant background.

  The recipes are authentic and come with special seasonings and sauces.   In some cases, like no where else around.
  That's what the employees bring to the kitchens,  and customers notice.   Often these  locations need their immediate neighbors to be frequent visitors to economically "hang in there" if the economy slumps.

Restaurant customer Sheena Martinez said, "I think in order to survive Santa Barbara you need the support of the community.   In order to get through and really survive here  this place is amazing  but  I do really want them to make it. The food is fabulous, (and)  the ambiance."
The owners say consistency and cleanliness are keys to their business plan.

Monika Draggoo is a partner in Maiz Picante.  She says, "we have a good product  and people seem to like it.  Good food. "
  The restaurant businesses is challenging, but on days like this, it's also encouraging.

  Draggoo says "it has.  We have only been open two months  and we are going to open up on the side and expand.  David (her business partner) wants to look at another place Isla Vista  or Carpinteria."

The kitchen has the space to expand. There's space nearby to open up the dining room and expand the seating.
   The Hispanic community recognizes both the historic importance and the business importance of Cinco de Mayo as it looks ahead to the summer season.    This is also a time to unify communities with non-Hispanic and Hispanic residents coming together.

(There are two videos attached to this story.)

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Cinco de Mayo
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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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