Despite pandemic, Mariachi’s shares the love

  • Contributed photo

    Here is Mariachi’s Molcajete dish that feeds two to three people at a time. It contains steak, shrimp, chicken breast, cactus cheese fried jalapenos with green tomatillo sauce everywhere.

  • Contributed photo

    Mariachi’s will also be serving your favorite tacos of your choice. Mix it up or have all the same tacos.

  • Contributed photo

    On Valentine’s Day, Mariachi’s in Kapa‘a and in Lihu‘e will be serving their steak and lobster special.

When thinking of what Valentine’s dinner to choose today or if supporting local is on your mind, Mariachi’s authentic Mexican cuisine in Lihu‘e and Kapa‘a makes it easy to decide with their takeout or dine-in specials.

Mariachi’s Executive Manager Devin Portillo, son of owner Hector Portillo, said his father has run the two restaurants since 2007, and has experienced some struggles since the pandemic began.

“Well, people are just hesitant to go out regardless of the guidelines,” Portillo said. “Just people walking in the doors is very limited right now. With the guidelines our open-air is actually nice. Very few people feel comfortable with that.”

With less tourist coming to Kaua‘i, restaurants like Mariachi’s has seen a decrease in foot traffic.

“I would say less than 10 people a day,” Portillo said. “Some days we’re blessed with like a little rush, which can be anywhere from like five to 10 tables, and it seems nice, we’re kind of busy for a bit, and then, all of a sudden, there’s just nothing.”

Portillo and his team are prepared for residents at both restaurants for Valentine’s Day.

“Well, I mean, we have our nice outdoor seating, and we’re going to be doing steak and lobster special for anyone that does want to come in and try,” Portillo said. “They can definitely get that to go. You can call ahead. You can order through the Uber Eats app, too.”

Unlike other restaurants that have created new pandemic hours, Portillo said he kept their regular hours.

“Which is from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m,” Portillo said. “We just kind of schedule all of our workers spaced out. So it can seem shorthanded if it gets busy in the mornings because we want to be open. And it’s usually manageable with one worker, but then all of a sudden, we’ll be lucky to have a little rush and then, you know, it seems it seems busy, but I mean, better than not being open and not being there to serve anyone.”

Portillo also had to say goodbye to a few employees during the pandemic.

“Definitely a lot of people move to different places,” Portillo said. They didn’t even stay on the island because it’s too difficult, they’re not making as much so I didn’t need to let them go, they just left.”

Local residents have become their main source of income at Mariachi’s, which Portillo is grateful for. He said sometimes he gives his regular customers a free meal.

“Thank you guys so much, we appreciate all the help,” Portillo said. “We would like any opportunity to give back to the community to, you know. We want to also not just us have customers, but we want to be thankful and give back in any way possible. We’re gonna continue to try to be thankful by giving great service and good food.”

Portillo appreciates the aloha spirit found on Kaua‘i.

“Hopefully all the other businesses can work together to share all of the few customers we have right now,” Portillo said. “Because it’s not really everyone for themselves. We have to like work together to support each other.”

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  1. USAF Brat February 14, 2021 6:33 am Reply

    Ohana to ohana with the utmost respect and Love IS Mariachi’s! We were there last night in fact, and as per usual, All 8 of us received the warmest practices of any of the other establishments combined. “Margarito” team shout out to them for their consistently portraying the highest levels of integrity and showing what “blessings” are in real-time with real peoples, who in our case, while we are in their embrace, have had the sharp edges of this current life upsidedown, removed. Otherwise, our lives outside, have become very corporately unorganized and very very messy! Aloha Cuzin Carl!

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