SOLON— Can a community of about 2,000 people support two Mexican Restaurants? The founders of El Sol Mexican Cuisine believe it can.
Diego Rivera (no kin to the artist) is the former owner of El Sol and a related restaurant in Mount Vernon. With his former manager, Joel Vazquez, they hope to succeed with a new venture, Frida Kahlo Mexican Restaurant and Lucy’s Bakery, in a strip mall at the edge of town.
Frida Kahlo de Rivera, namesake of the new restaurant, was a Mexican painter, perhaps best known for her self-portraits.
“Her work has been celebrated in Mexico as emblematic of national and indigenous tradition, and by feminists for its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form,” according to her website.
Kahlo has been described as “one of history’s grand divas… a tequila-slamming, dirty joke-telling smoker, bi-sexual that hobbled about her bohemian barrio in lavish indigenous dress and threw festive dinner parties for the likes of Leon Trotsky, poet Pablo Neruda, Nelson Rockefeller, and her on-again, off-again husband, muralist Diego Rivera.”
Too controversial a symbol for a small town? Time will tell, but most local people don’t dig that deeply.
The issue may be that the space for the new restaurant is a graveyard to a succession of culinary failures, most recently The Dock Fine Dining. The new venture will test the viability of the strip mall space, however, Nomi’s Asian Restaurant and Subway have been successful a few doors down, and this pair of entrepreneurs has been successful in town with their first Mexican restaurant.
Rivera recently returned from a trip to a culinary school in Mexico where he learned about pre-Hispanic cuisine.
“When the Spanish arrived in Mexico, the Aztecs had sophisticated agricultural techniques and an abundance of food, which was the base of their economy. It allowed them to expand an empire, bringing in tribute which consisted mostly of foods the Aztecs could not grow themselves. According to Bernardino de Sahagún, the Nahua peoples of central Mexico ate corn, beans, turkey, fish, small game, insects and a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, pulses, seeds, tubers, wild mushrooms, plants and herbs that they collected or cultivated,” according to Wikipedia.
One hopes for authentic dishes that are reflective of more than standard Mexican restaurant fare. Having witnessed the development of this pair of restauranteurs, Frida Kahlo Mexican Restaurant and Lucy’s Bakery looks promising.