COVID ‘pushed us over the edge’: This metro Phoenix vegan Mexican restaurant is closing – AZCentral

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Mi Vegana Madre, a Mexican vegan restaurant in metro Phoenix, will close permanently on July 31. Owners Jose and Leticia Gamiz announced on social media this week that pandemic-related financial concerns have left them no choice but to close theGlendale restaurant after two years.  

“When something like this happens, it can be a lot more devastating [to us] than to a restaurant who is a lot more established … this kind of pushed us over the edge,” said Jose Gamiz.  

The first incarnation of the restaurant was a vegan Mexican food truck the couple started in 2015. They brought Mi Vegana Madre to a brick-and-mortar location in Glendale in July 2018.  

Among the Valley’s first vegan Mexican restaurants 

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When the pandemic-related closures hit in March, the restaurant moved to take-out only until late June. Mi Vegana Madre reopened for extremely limited dine-in service only on weekends, but it did not prove sustainable.  

“The first year was tough, and the second year got a little bit better. It’s the first couple years or so that are the test by fire,” Jose said, explaining that they were not in a great position to weather this storm.  

The business started as a small idea after he and his wife converted to a vegan diet. Jose, who always enjoyed cooking and working in kitchens, and Leticia, who came to be passionate about vegan cooking, decided to run with the idea and create a food truck that eventually led to a restaurant. When Mi Vegana Madre opened as a food truck in 2015, Jose said they were one of the first exclusively vegan Mexican restaurants in the Valley.

“Now, there’s a few more, but five years ago when we started, there weren’t,” he said. Mi Vegana Madre was known for its dairy-free, meatless burritos, tacos and tortas. But the Gamizes also didn’t just cook for their customers; they taught others how to cook vegan for themselves.The restaurant also hosted events like yoga classes and jack fruit workshops.  

“Our overall goal is to help people become vegan,” said Jose, which is why they have been offering food workshops since they had the food truck. They have filmed some instructional YouTube videos to replace their workshops during the COVID-19 pandemic, but when they release them will depend on which direction they head with their business, he said.

‘A movement and activism through food’ 

It’s not over for the Gamizes’ vegan food ingenuity.  

“It’s hard to know what’s going to be the ‘new normal’ after all this blows over,” he said, adding that a take-out only business might be something people will be more comfortable with for the foreseeable future.  

Jose said he is trying to secure a spot in a vegan kitchen where they can make their raw vegan “cheezecakes” and pies to sell online once the restaurant location closes. 

They formerly used a commercial kitchen in their food truck days, but now Jose said they would like to find a vegan food business to share space with so there would be fewer worries of cross-contamination.  

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Jose said he hopes customers keep supporting “mom and pop local businesses” to keep small restaurants alive, especially vegan establishments.  

“It’s not just a physical location, this is a movement and activism through food, so our concept and our spirit go on.” 

Reach the reporter at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @DrShaena.

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