The fight to reopen
On the morning of Tuesday April 10, 2018 our restaurant Masala y Maiz was suddenly closed, without warning, because of a corrupt and broken system. It was a massive blow to our restaurant and our staff just as we started to feel like we were getting on our feet.
We found out that this “temporary suspension” will be for a minimum of 10 days and could be up to a month and that even though everything we have been doing has been completely legal and that our paperwork was all in order, the suspension has already been processed and we can’t reopen until it is lifted. We were told that someone with money, power and connections had called in favors to send INVEA to shut us down. The agents sent to close us each wrote different, completely fabricated, reasons on their paperwork and told us they were going to close us regardless of reason. They told us they weren't going to leave until they did so. It was all very unusual, but as many other chefs and restauranteurs told us, sadly normalized here in Mexico City.
Our lawyers followed up on this case and showed us all the inconsistencies in the suspension paperwork filed. They confirmed that though this is a corrupt closure, wholly illegal and without merit, we still have to remain closed until the bureaucratic process is completed or risk further fines and legal problems. This is the dirty systemic power of this type of corruption. We are in this fight now and refuse to let our restaurant and our staff be bullied by some corrupt official. We will not succumb to this type of abuse.
It has been months of closure. Months of fighting red tape, bureaucracy, corruption and trying our hardest to fight off the depression and keep our heads up. We have been surviving through the support of our amazing community. Many of our chef mentors, friends and family from around the world have donated to our crowdfunding campaign and told us their own horror stories of fighting through corruption and red tape.
Here in Mexico City, once our closure became public and people found out we refused to pay bribes, the response was powerful, supportive and uplifting. Some of the best chefs and restaurants in the country reached out to support us.
We took our restaurant into exile and started doing collaborations and pop ups around the city. Chef Eduardo Garcia invited us to do our masala fried chicken night at his restaurant LALO! Chef Enrique Olvera invited us to be the first resident chefs at his new project Casa TEO. Chef Joaquin Cardoso invited us to do a number of brunches at Loup Bar. Chefs Mercedes Bernal & Rodney Cusic invited us to a collaboration menu at their stunning restaurant Meroma. Famed chinamperos Yolcan invited us to cook and serve a fundraising meal at their chinampa del sol in Xochimilco as part of their Chef-Semilla series. Chef Scarlett Lindeman and co-owner Jake Lindeman of Cicatriz Cafe started selling our donuts weekly to help keep our business and staff afloat. Cafe Buna started selling our chai and on their window in big letters they wrote that it was made with the tears of our corrupt enemies!
Through all of this, our clientelle have stood by our side, sending us messages of support and showing up to each of our pop-ups, collaborations, private dinners and classes. A few of our regulars got together to hire us to teach private donut making classes! We feel so fortunate to have this love and support from our community. It's the only thing that has kept us and our staff moving forward and keeping us strong in this fight.
This closure has been wildly difficult and its effects continue to have a horribly profound and long-reaching impact not only on us as chefs, but all our staff and their families, our farmers, producers and purveyors, our business partners and our community. It is troubling that one corrupt person can have such a devastating effect on so many people.
We are going to get through this. We, and all our supporters, partners and community, are committed to being stronger together in this fight. We will be reopening soon with an expanded menu and hours. We cant wait for you to join us at the table.
UPDATE: We reopened for regular service on September10. 2018! We are so excited to be back in our own restaurant and cooking again. We are incredibly grateful for the countless supporters, allies and compañeros who stood by our side in this fight and helped us keep going. We are excited to welcome you back to Masala y Maiz.