ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Festive drinks and foods are ready to be served Thursday to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but the holiday carries more historic and cultural meaning to Mexican-Americans.
Customers can show their support by spending their dollars at local Mexican restaurants.
Decorating with balloons and blasting rhythms, Alejandro’s Mexican Grill is ready to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.
Moises Nucamendi, the restaurant owner, said before the coronavirus pandemic they would serve more than 600 orders on this holiday.
But Cinco de Mayo is more than just discounted foods and drinks.
It’s a holiday to commemorate the historical moment when Mexico defeated France in a battle back in 1862, known as the Battle of Puebla.
Though the victory did not mark independence, the Mexican Army overcame the French Army’s forces despite being outnumbered and with limited weapons.
But as Alejandro’s Mexican Grill switches out the menus and hires extra staff, Nucamendi said it’s a day to acknowledge and share cultures.
“We love our culture, and we love this culture,” he said. “We want to be a part of this culture. And we want to bring something to the table so we can share.”
In Vinton, La Casa del Burrito Taco Shop puts its own California flavor on the tradition.
“Cinco de Mayo is very important for Mexicans,” Roxy Vazquez, the shop owner’s wife, said. “It’s a huge thing for us.”
Growing up in San Diego, Vasquez remembers her mother teaching her about the holiday as a day to show an amplified level of pride.
Using food as the universal language, Vasquez wants authenticity to dispel stereotypes about Mexican cuisine.
“Taco Bell, people all around think that’s Mexican food and it’s not,” she said. “Tacos to us are onions, cilantro, meat. It makes a huge difference.”
Nucamendi said supporting local businesses can make a difference not only for families, but for the economy.
“It’s kind of the business that really helps you know drive economy,” Nucamendi said. “Even though there are big companies. I think small businesses are really the muscle. "