Most everyone has heard by now that the Cinco de Mayo celebration marked by so many Tex-Mex restaurants and taco-burrito bars throughout the Buckeye State is an American creation.
Sure, the day officially commemorates Mexico’s defeat of a far larger French force at Puebla in 1862, leading ultimately to the country throwing off the yoke of European rule.
But Americans, thirsty for a tequila-fueled, mid-Spring fiesta, have made the day their own, complete with holiday-specific apparel and accouterments, great drink specials and a near-endless supply of chips and salsa.
Think St. Patrick’s Day, says Mike Belcastro, general manager of Cantina Laredo in Columbus. Incorporate the red and white of the Mexican tricolor flag, throw some spice on the food and enjoy a Mexican lager or tequila- or agave-infused cocktail.
“What you see on Cinco de Mayo in a full restaurant, it’s more like a celebration or a party,” Belcastro said. “People come dressed in their Mexican attire — people show up with sombreros, their beads and zarapes.
“And the day revolves around larger groups having a good time.”
He said the bar plans drink specials on Cabo Wabo and Tres Generaciones tequila brands.
That’s pretty commonplace for Mexican restaurants — specials on drinks and Mexican beer.
“You’ll also see entertainment in some of the restaurants,” Belcastro said.
Cantina Laredo previously has hosted Cinco de Mayo entertainment, but due to the day falling on a Sunday, it didn’t bother hiring any live acts.
What Belcastro expects to happen with the Sunday holiday is that patrons will celebrate throughout the entire weekend. For that reason, he says the bar will be busy all day Saturday and until about 7 p.m. on Sunday.
“We’ll have a little bit of a different crowd each day,” he said.
The typical party marking the occasion, usually stays about three hours, Belcastro noted. They’re not there to hurry through anything.
“It’s just about having fun on that day,” he said.
Belcastro said he expects to see some Kentucky Derby fans that Saturday in addition to visiting family and out-of-town guests in Columbus for Ohio State graduation on Sunday.
He joked there are all kinds of reasons to celebrate that weekend.
Belcastro said it’s a fun event for staff to work, too.
“They’re jazzed up having a good time with the guests,” he said.