Cinco De Mayo

Family restaurant booming in downtown Rockford

April 29, 2010 // 0 Comments

Cinco de Mayo shows off fresh flavor, eye appeal at grand opening Cinco de Mayo restaurant owner Marco Cuellar was looking for a location to open a restaurant in the Rockford area. Meanwhile, building owner Tom Cronkright was doing his own due diligence to find a suitable tenant for his Courtland Street property. “I left information at three of his other restaurants, and that’s how he found out about this building,” said Cronkright during a grand opening event Wednesday, April 21. “We were looking for something in the area, that’s how I found it,” said Cuellar. The restauranteur couldn’t be happier about the success of his Rockford dining establishment, open at 123 Courtland. The business began operations October 5, 2009, but held a formal grand opening April 21 to thank special guests, including contractors and brokers who helped the business prepare for opening and city officials and council members. The restaurant’s liquor license was recently granted and cold beer; margaritas and other specialty drinks were available for the event, in addition to the extensive menu options. Among attendees to the free event were council member Brien Dews and building owner Tom Cronkright along with his wife Julie. All three said they eat at the restaurant often and note that business has been brisk. The brightly decorated interior with upstairs patio seating can accommodate over 140 diners. On that Wednesday the restaurant was largely full and Cronkright said business is even better on prime dining nights. Cuellar said his father-in-law started the chain, and there are 13 Cinco de Mayo restaurants in Michigan and another five out of state. He accredits the company’s success with serving authentic, fresh Mexican food. “We work daily. We don’t prepare any food ahead of time,” Cuellar said. Dews said the flavor of authentic prepared food is obvious, from the “secret recipe” salsa to the entrees. With a building full of guests, friends and family around him, Cuellar said he loves his business. “I like to be busy,” he laughed. “It’s part of the life.” Cinco de Mayo offers daily drink specials, including over ten different margaritas and 20 kinds of tequila in addition to wines, beers and other mixed drinks. There are daily lunch and dinner specials as well. For […]

Opinions — March 18, 2010

March 18, 2010 // 0 Comments

Readers respond to Squire opinion column Journalism is a service industry and the service we provide is awareness. Armed with that awareness many Squire readers responded to an opinion piece that appeared in the January 21 edition of the Squire. Titled “Michigan a dysfunction State of being,” the column focused readers attention on the hardship being imposed on a new Rockford restaurant by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC). At the time the column appeared in the paper the new Mexican eatery, Cinco de Mayo, had been waiting almost eight months for the MLCC to issue a liquor license. The coveted license was the missing link to the restaurants future success. Squire readers responded to the lengthy injustice described in the column by sending letters of concern to the Governors’ office and to the offices of state senator Mark Jensen and state representative Tom Pearce. It appears that in short order the message got to the MLCC which shortly thereafter issued the long sought license on February 18, 2010. Sharon Martin, acting director of the MLCC was quoted last week in another local paper saying,” our goal is to issue a license within 90 days of receiving the application.” No one would disagree that goals are good. But goals are meaningless and just become more rhetoric unless they can be achieved. Martin is further quoted as saying the license application was filed in August of 2009. We find that interesting because the MLCC official website clearly states that the initial application was received by MLCC on June 3, 2009. You do the math. From June 3, 2009 to February 18, 2010 is an appalling nine-and-a-half months from application receipt to license issuance. So much for 90 days! At long last, all’s well that ends well, a new Rockford dining establishment can now serve a delicious ice-cold margarita or other libation with their fine Mexican cuisine. The would like to thank their many readers who responded with letters of concern sent to elected government officials. Taking the time to write a letter and address an envelope speaks volumes to our elected leaders. You should all be very proud of yourselves.

OPINIONS — January 21, 2010

January 21, 2010 // 0 Comments

Michigan a dysfunctional State of being by CLIFF & NANCY HILL What follows is another example of how Michigan—in spite of rhetoric from the governor’s office and the state legislature to reform the state—is still finding ways to not deliver services more efficiently and in a timely manner. In 2008, the Michigan state legislature created a new type of on-premises liquor licenses, namely Redevelopment Project Area and Development District or Area Liquor Licenses. Rockford’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is one such qualified district or area. The legislation stipulates the availability of one new liquor license within the redevelopment project area for every $200,000 of public and private investment in real and personal property over a preceding five-year period. Rockford’s DDA has met and exceeded that financial hurdle—in spades—qualifying for a goodly number of the new class of liquor licenses. This is all well and good. It was hoped that the new licenses would enhance the quality of life for a city’s residents along with visitors to their community. More importantly, it is felt by many that the new licenses would stimulate economic growth, create jobs and encourage the opening of new businesses. Now here’s the rub. In the spring of 2009, the owner of the newly rebuilt and vacant downtown Rockford storefront at 123 E. Courtland Street secured a tenant, the Mexican cuisine restaurant Cinco de Mayo. Acquiring one of the new liquor licenses was critical to the venture’s future financial success. Achieving unanimous Rockford City Council approval for license application to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC), the principals moved forward and initiated the application process on June 3, 2009. At the same time, they commenced with the extremely expensive build-out of the restaurant’s interior. They were aiming for a Harvest Festival 2009 grand opening date and hopeful their new liquor license would be in hand at the same time. Were they ever wrong. Still without a liquor license on October 5, 2009, Cinco de Mayo opened their doors for business, promising in advertisements in the local newspapers a “full bar coming soon.” To this day, almost eight months after they initially made application to the MLCC, Cinco de Mayo has yet to receive their liquor license and no one at the state level […]

Welcome to Guanajuato, Mexico

September 17, 2009 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Last Saturday, while Art in the Park was in full swing in Garden Club Park, art on a grand scale was being created inside of a soon-to-be-open Mexican restaurant in downtown Rockford. Guatemalan artist Carmelo Lopez (pictured below), currently residing in the U.S., has been working feverishly to meet a two-week deadline prior to the grand opening of Cinco de Mayo. Lopez has been busy painting three-dimensional murals on the interior walls of the restaurant located on Courtland Street at the site of the former Smokehouse which burned down two years ago. Lopez is depicting scenes of old Mexico, primarily the hometown of restauranteur Marco Cullar. To say that Lopez is succeeding would be an understatement. The murals are beautiful and so realistic that one feels they are in the heart of Guanajuato, Mexico. The artwork displayed in the decor is worthy of the Grand Rapids Art Prize competition! Cinco de Mayo will be a full-service restaurant with a large eclectic menu featuring authentic Mexican cuisine.