Mexicali Allies celebrates 20 years of family serving family

Anniversary Ribbon Cutting slated for Friday, Oct. 2

Over the past 20 years, Mexicali Allies has been a fixture in the downtown Howell restaurant scene, has been serving up authentic, homemade Mexican food from its family to the families in and around Livingston County. The restaurant will celebrate its anniversary at 5 pm on Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, during a ceremonial ribbon cutting to mark the occasion. The public is invited to attend.

 Over the last two decades Sandy Blake has operated Mexicali Allies with a passion for cooking and a passion for family. According to Sandy’s daughter, Lupe Sharpe, Sandy knows every ingredient in every dish served.

 Their passion extends beyond the kitchen as well to include family. Since the beginning, Mexicali Allies has been a family business. While Sandy may be the boss in the kitchen, you’ll find plenty of other family members in positions that are essential to a successful restaurant. Lupe serves customers and staffs the cash register (among other things), while her brother helps as a cook. Lupe’s son does all the baking, and many cousins have served as wait staff over the years.

 When asked about highlights of the long tenure in business, it again came back to family. According to daughter Lupe there was a year when she, along with several family members and regular customers, were pregnant, and shared the ups and downs of expectant mothers while working or eating at the restaurant, just as any family would.

 Family also includes the restaurant’s regular customers. And distance did not limit some customers from enjoying favorite dishes. Mexicali Allies boasts a customer from Canada who, whenever is in the vicinity, bring a cooler for carry out. Another family who had moved out-of-state was considering a return to Livingston County, but “only if Mexicali Allies was still in business.”

 The family aspect is only one reason for the eatery’s success. The other, of course, is the food.

Customers can enjoy a wide variety of traditional Mexican dishes, along with a few that are unique to Mexicali Allies. For those that like it hot, Mexicali Allies offers several dishes sure to satisfy.

The expansive menu includes vegetarian and gluten-free options, along with dishes that can be specially prepared for diabetics.

Owner Sandy Blake’s passion for food does not end with Mexican cuisine, though. In 2012, the restaurant established its Secret Supper Club. Similar to a “pop-up” restaurant, the Secret Supper Club is a spontaneous event featuring anything from Chinese cuisine or Latin cuisine, with the restaurant decorated accordingly. It all depends on what mood Sandy and her family are in. The events have become very popular and usually sell out within two weeks of being announced. Seating is limited and the events are announced only through a posting in the restaurant. Another event is imminent, so staff recommends that those who are interested should visit the restaurant regularly!

As it celebrates 20 years of business, owner Sandy Blake summed up her philosophy in a brief statement: “This isn’t just a business, it’s a family.” And it’s one she hopes to pass on to her grandchildren one day. For now there are no signs of slowing down, and Mexicali Allies’ is excited to share this milestone with the community- from one family to another.