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How Southwest Detroit businesses are planning for a safe Cinco de Mayo celebration

Posted at 5:50 AM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-05 07:15:50-04

(WXYZ) — There are about 1,700 small businesses in the southwest Detroit area alone, and May is one of the busiest months for Mexicantown, in part because of the Cindo de Mayo celebrations which will have a different look this year.

Related: Here is a list of Cinco de Mayo specials & deals from southwest Detroit businesses

"On the actual Cinco, it would get really packed all over the place. Every restaurant, every food truck you would see lines," Los Altos Owner Nancy Diaz-Lopez said.

Last year though, she said her restaurants and food trucks in Mexicantown were a bit quiet on Cinco de Mayo.

She's reflecting on the drastic changes made by businesses for more than a year because of the pandemic and the state-imposed capacity limits. For months, Los Altos depended on carry out.

Despite that, her establishments are part of the fortunate group that has managed to survive in Southwest Detroit.

"Honestly, if it wasn't for our employees, I don't think none of us would be around," she said.

"This is another struggle that we're going to defeat one day," Gloria Rosas, the co-owner of Xochi's Gift Shop, added.

Gloria and her daughter own the shop, which is full of authentic Mexican goods. It closed for a short time last year.

Since opening in 1985, the family said they've never experienced this kind of disruption in businesses or to the annual parade.

"People come out. They decorate their cars. The kids do their dances. There are schools that do their marching bands," she said. "So it's just something that really brings our community together."

Both say they've learned to adjust over time, doing more promotions on social media and online, and reaching out to customers to let them know they're open for curbside pickup.

"They being as creative as they can. As always they find a way to survive," Theresa Zajac, the interim president of the Southwest Detroit Business Association, said.

According to Zajac, a number of grants have helped businesses keep their doors open over the past year, making it to another Cinco de Mayo that will be tampered down since much of the celebration will be virtual.

"I think that the restaurants will still get the surge of customers that they have in the past. Not to the same degree because they can't do 100%, but a lot of people will come out. In fact, they probably already started on Sunday," Zajac said.

The Cino de Mayo parade and celebrations streamed live on Sunday will stream again on One Detroit at 6 p.m. Wednesday.