Advocates urge support for Latino-owned businesses throughout the year

Kansas City, Mo. – Whether they are new or well-established, every local business needs support, and for Latino-owned companies, it must extend well beyond just one month.

At Lilly’s Cantina in Kansas City, owner Teresa Grado wants it to feel like grandma’s house.

“That’s what I want you to feel – at home, so you can just relax,” said Grado.

She said every morning she makes everything fresh, from scratch. From fresh chips to homemade salsa, Grado prides itself on its authentic recipes.

And there is pride in his journey here as well.

“As a kid growing up, I was a bad kid … We got into shootouts, so I was one of those kids. I was the kid you didn’t want your kid hanging around,” Grado said.

But she changed her life around.

“I named the business after my mother,” she said of Lilly’s Cantina. “I want to make him proud.”

Stories like Grado’s are inspiring many to support Latino-owned businesses during Hispanic Heritage Month.

“We’re going to try to find local businesses that we can support, and we make videos and share them,” said Omar Diosdado, a local business supporter.

But Pedro Zamora, executive director of the Hispanic Development Corporation, is encouraging more in metro KC to throw their support behind Hispanic business owners — not just one month but year-round.

“Latino culture is relevant 12 months a year, 365 days,” Zamora said. “We’re a big part of the economy. We’re a big part of our social and we’re a big part of the cultural enrichment of our city, and that’s what makes KC a great place to live.

Lilly’s Cantina has only been open for 10 months, but community support is essential to its survival.

“The future for Lilly is to franchise it because I feel like everyone should enjoy this,” Grado said.

And the unique experience and story of Hispanic culture in Kansas City resonate with all of us.

“We want to support that,” Diosdado said. “It’s been a tough journey to get here, to be able to do all this, and I think it means a lot to them and we want to appreciate that.”

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