R.I.’s struggling Mexican restaurants still celebrate Cinco de Mayo

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Cinco de Mayo looked a little different this year due to the coronavirus.

It’s usually one of the busiest day’s for Rhode Island’s Mexican restaurants, which are hurting because the pandemic.

Many local spots have closed because of it. Others, like Viva Mexico Cantina in Providence, offered take-out and delivery.

Viva Mexico had to scale back their efforts amid the pandemic.

“Usually we have this whole outside seating area up front,” said co-owner, Andres Ruiz. “And we have the block party in the back. There’s definitely going to be a lower amount of income [this year], but we have to make the best of it.”

Cinco de Mayo has become an unofficial holiday of sorts in the United States, with many people celebrating Mexican and Latin culture. But it is not a national holiday in Mexico.

Many Americans mis-interpret Cinco de Mayo as Mexico’s Independence Day, but the country’s actual Independence Day falls on September 16.

Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. The victory of the under-matched Mexican forces over the French was a huge morale boost for Mexico during the Second French Intervention in Mexico.

Oscar Mejias, the president of the Rhode Island’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, tells ABC 6 that Cinco de Mayo is not being celebrated by as many Latinos in the state.

“The people who usually celebrate are in low-mode,” Mejias said. “Many people have family who have been affected by the coronavirus so there is no motive to celebrate.”

Mejias has been busy amid the pandemic, helping local businesses navigate Paycheck Protection Program loans, and come up with creative ideas to keep business afloat amid the pandemic.

“Our businesses are struggling to survive, they’re in survival mode trying to do their best to stay alive,” he explained.

Mejias encourages all Latino business owner in the state to reach out to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for help amid the pandemic.

They can be found at www.rihispanicchamber.org or by calling 401-400-1340.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Rhode Island