On the morning of Tuesday April 10, our restaurant Masala y Maiz was suddenly closed, without warning, because of a corrupt and broken system. It has been an incredibly difficult week for us and for our staff.
We found out that this “temporary suspension” will be for a minimum of 10 days and could be up to a month and that even though everything we have been doing has been completely legal and that our paperwork was all in order, the suspension has already been processed and we can’t reopen until it is lifted. One of the goons told us they were sent by someone with $ and connections and were instructed to shut us down regardless of reason and not to leave until they did so.
Our lawyers followed up on this case and showed us all the inconsistencies in the suspension paperwork filed. They confirmed that though this is a corrupt closure, wholly illegal and without merit, we still have to remain closed until the bureaucratic process is completed or risk further fines and legal problems. This is the dirty systemic power of this type of corruption. We are in this fight now and refuse to let our restaurant and our staff be bullied by some corrupt official and his goons. We will not succumb to this type of abuse.
This closure is going to cost the restaurant about $300,000 pesos (about $16,600 USD) over these next 10-15 days. That does not include legal fees and re-permitting fees, and does not include the loss of tips for our employees. We will likely be in a legal battle over this closure for the next 2 years. For a young restaurant like ours, this blow is critical. We need your help to get through this.
We have been reeling from the recognition that 1 corrupt person can wreak such terrible havoc on so many people. The hardest part about this is how drastically it effects our staff. We have 9 people working hard with us to make Masala y Maiz the beautiful community dining space that it is. We are all putting our heart and souls into this restaurant. This is a family restaurant and many of our staff work here as the sole support for their families. While their payroll won’t be interrupted during this closure, they are each losing thousands of pesos in tips.
We are working hard to support our staff and keep the business open during this corrupt closure. As Masala y Maiz is currently exiled from our building, we are popping up in restaurants around the city with #MasalayMaizEnElExilio and selling our #DonutsAgainstCorruption at our friend’s cafes. We are looking for new investors and getting real creative in how we get more tips to our staff and rent money together.
We created Masala y Maiz as a reflection of our communities, our families and our love for bringing people together around a table. And because of who we are, we use that table and our food to openly critique colonialism, white supremacy, patriarchy and systemic oppression. Our restaurant has gotten a wonderful response from a very active community of supporters and has been featured in national TV, the Discovery Channel, Food & Wine Magazine, Bon Appetite, and so much more.
However, the thing we are most proud of is the culture that we are building here. We are creating the work environment we have always wanted at restaurants. We provide health insurance, regular bonuses, a matched savings plan, and our staff are welcome to bring their kids to work. It’s a wonderful place to be and that comes through in the food that we create and the dining experiences our guests have.
Restaurants survive on thin margins and are, more than anything, a wild eyed labor of love (and exhaustion!). We have been fortunate to create such a dream of a restaurant and have a place to pour our hearts and souls into. We are confident we are going to get through this mess and come out stronger than before. But we also recognize that this is the time that we need to ask for help from our communities.
If you have been following our work or have been able to eat at Masala y Maiz, you know how special this place is. Anything you can give to support the project and our staff would be greatly appreciated. We are trying to raise $5000 USD over the next week to help get through this period. Anything you can give helps us a lot.
Thank you so much for your support of Masala y Maiz, our staff and for standing by us in this fight. Follow us on IG @masalaymaiz to find out more about what we are doing.
with humility and love,
Saqib y Norma
Masala y Maiz
(Some of our wonderful crew: Gianina, Judith, Mariel, Fernando, Cristina, Miguel and Jonathan)