Mexican restaurant takes
political stance announcing
'No Passion, No Tacos'
A Mexican restaurant in a small town in Iowa has wrapped itself in the midst of political discourse after some famous eatery customers have insulted a yard sign the owner put outside.
Alfonso Medina, the sign promoted equity and social justice, but others considered it too politically correct and wrote letters to the director. Instead of taking it down, Medina put a much larger one using just four terms and unintentionally launched a passion, tacos and politics campaign.
"I decided to respond with good humor," said Medina, La Carreta Mexican Grill master.
La Carreta delivers Mexican cuisine in Marshalltown, a small village about 50 miles northeast of Des Moines, for 20 years. A few years back, Medina took over the family restaurant business. His ancestors, born in Iowa, moved from Mexico more than three decades ago.
"Made in Mexico, shipped," he added.
During the pandemic, the restaurant remained open and its employees stayed on the job as Iowa is one of a few states that have fully shut down businesses.
Taking 'courageous' political stance
But things became curious in August when Medina posted a small black sign with rainbow letters at the parking lot entrance that said: "We think black lives matter, no person is illegitimate, science is true, women's rights are human rights," and a few other things.
"I didn't think it was evil," he said, admitting his wife called him "brave" to place the sign in front of the shop.
Not long after, his social media feed ignited mockery of the sign, and he also got a few letters. But he caught one such message. No return address or signature was typed.
To Medina, a customer's letter was simple. They named him, accusing him of caving in to political correctness, but they also labelled him "a leftist Marxist."
Whoever wrote the letter said they saw the sign only after leaving the restaurant, spending more than $100, leaving a "generous tip."
The letter also includes a handwritten section expressing deceit La Carreta wanted to show a sign "that insults and disrespects Christianity and America."
That's why Medina shared it on social media, saying he 's taking it in phase.
He wrote on Facebook he wasn't angry or scared. He said he stood by his symbol, and letters just inspire him to proceed. "Si ladran es porque vamos avanzando," he wrote, meaning "if they bark, we're moving forward."
He wrote on Instagram, "We're sorry your burrito had to get partisan, but that's the only way you'd listen."
But at the end of both posts, four words went viral: "No Love, No Tacos."
And the word became the restaurant's current motto.
"I'm someone who takes the bad and wants to make it tenfold more optimistic," he said. "If they don't like us, they should match their values with the food they consume."
Having a sign a campaign
It wasn't long before people responded, including demanding T-shirts with the slogan.
Maria Gonzalez, labeling herself number one fan of La Carretta, applauds the restaurateur.
"We live in a country where we can be together, thinking about our neighbors," she said.
Medina did what any smart businessman would do: he copyrighted the logo and began selling t-shirts and other licensed goods to help support a local community college scholarship.
And he arranged for a huge billboard advertising "No Passion, No Tacos" outside his restaurant that dwarfed the initial uproar sign.
There, Medina didn't stop and continued to use the slogan to persuade voters to vote in the forthcoming election.
He's no stranger to politics, several Democratic hopefuls made a campaign stop at La Carreta in recent primary season, including Beto O'Rourke, Julian Castro, and Tom Steyer.
He says he'd welcome any Republican nominee whose ideals complement his own.
The two cooks in the kitchen work acrobatics in the small room, slowly rushing tacos, nachos, enchiladas and other Mexican food specialties to their faithful clients.
On a recent early October Sunday, tables were complete within the constraints to preserve social distance. Nearly white clients. According to Census Bureau, 30% of the city's 26,666 inhabitants are Hispanic.
Last year, La Carreta even received national recognition when The Food Network called its "California Burrito" one of America's best. "It's nothing too complex," Medina said of its simple ingredients such as rice , beans and avocado plus beef, chicken or pork. You can also make it vegetarian.
Piggybacking the slogan 's success, Medina created a new website where he supports making Election Day a national holiday. He's doing his preaching.
"My goal is to make elections as possible," Medina says. "I'm going to close on Polling Day and not only pay my staff, but I'm going to go and work at voting."