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Fresh Mex might cost a pretty peso if Trump has his way

Mexican foodBy Zachary Aedo | Feb. 4, 2017

Mexican restaurant owners serving their country’s traditional dishes throughout Northern Utah expressed dismay at President Donald Trump’s proposal to impose a 20 percent tariff on Mexican imported goods to fund the building of a border wall.

Angelica Madrigal, the owner of Patricia’s Restaurant in Ogden, said a tariff would negatively affect her business and mean her restaurant would have to “fight once more for profit” against local competition.

Madrigal said the majority of the food her restaurant serves is made from Mexican-imported produce such as avocados, chili peppers and onions. The locals' favorite Mexican soft drink, Jarritos, is also imported.

Madrigal said she would be angry if Trump were to impose the tariff because "here one pays taxes upon taxes upon taxes without receiving any support from them. Here it's all about paying taxes."

Although Patricia's Restaurant will soon have been serving Mexican food for five years, Madrigal said it can still be a struggle to survive — and an extra cost would just make it even harder to turn a profit.

"Had I known all this before having a business, I wouldn't have opened a business," Madrigal said.

Maria Barbosa, one of the owners of Ogden restaurant La Puente, said Trump would have to stay “wanting” for business owners and U.S. consumers to pay the suggested tariff.

“Do you think we’re going to pay that?” Barbosa asked in Spanish. “Are we solely going to work for him?”

Other Mexican restaurant owners who do not use as much imported produce from Mexico expressed less concern. 

Javier Vasquez, a co-owner of Maria's Mexican Restaurant, said he and his customers do not think about how the avocado arrives to the restaurant.

"Let's assume the price of avocado increases or changes forever,” he said. “Well, then we'll have to increase the price of the guacamole."

Vasquez doesn't see a tariff as a source of concern for his business because many of the products used in his restaurant are produced in California.

Miles Clark, general manager of Carlos & Harley's & 745 Sports Bar & Grill in Eden, shares Vasquez's view. Clark said that only the limes and some alcoholic beverages served in his sports bar are imported from Mexico.

But as to the thing the tariff is supposed to pay for? "I don't think it's going to be a good idea, especially having the taxpayers pay for it at first,” Clark said. “They should use that money for something else."