Column: The Real Story by Dirk Knudsen
Here is a story that should appeal to the caring people of Hillsboro and beyond. Our new neighbors on Main Street are in trouble and have turned everywhere for help; only to find little to none. The Hillsboro Fire of January 2nd, 2022 landed on their front door and closed their restaurant, LA MIXTECA OAXACA DOWNTOWN, for 3.5 weeks behind a steel fence and plywood wall. For the last 4 weeks, the street and sidewalks have been closed. Hard to serve food where no one can drive or walk. Now their landlord has evicted them from a portion of their space and the main restaurant area is slated to be next if rent is not paid. They are two months behind but determined to turn it around.
Meet Lucia Vicencio, the soul of this business and family. A proud strong woman who has dreamt of bringing authentic Oaxacan food to America ever since the day a Coyote smuggled her and her 1-year-old son Martin across the border decades ago. I could tell you of how she was homeless, used as a house cleaner for pennies, lied to, married to a bad man, and divorced, and how she almost lost everything. But I won’t. No, I want to tell you why you should care enough to donate to a campaign we are sponsoring to raise rent money to keep LaMixteca Oaxaca here on Main Street. Read her whole story here.
See the photos below to get a sense of Lucia and her loving husband’s life here in Hillsboro.
Lucia exudes life and a joy for food and family. She is passionate. She cares and loves her family as few ever have. Her smile is enough to keep you captive and her expressions and passionate language are just fun to take in. Her food is from the soul and the flavors are amazing. She is at the pinnacle of her life’s dream and was just realizing it when this fire hit. A fire that took all of their income, and no business can survive a drop to zero income for very long. She is fighting every day, and she went to our City Council and begged for help. Help that has thus far not come. On the third day in a row that I witnessed her crying in private to her family, I realized if we don’t do something we will lose this business and this family from downtown.
A photo from a few years back of Lucia and Jose, her baby son Raphael, her daughters Lucia and Destiny, and her son Martin. Not shown here is the new child, little Therese.
Why do we need them on Main across from the Venetian between 2nd and 3rd? Well, let me give you a few reasons.
- Their food is fast and top tier. This is what the City has wanted downtown.
- While Latinos make up a large % of Hillsboro’s racial composition, they have not been represented in the historic downtown in any great numbers. Their business is an important development.
- The family is energetic and has brought color, music, and vibrancy downtown.
- The Children all help at the restaurant and the young ones engage customers too!
- They are community-oriented. It was Lucia and Jose who had free water, coffee, and food for firefighters and affected business owners out in front on the morning of the fire. It was LUCIA and JOSE who provided crucial security camera footage to the fire marshall that lead to the arsonist’s arrest. In addition, the same wonderful people who are being evicted hosted the Candle lighting for fire victim Ronnie “Ron-Dog” Knapp. Imagine that, those that had the least to give are the ones who did.
The family of Ronnie “Ron-Dog” Knapp gather in front of LA MIXTECA OAXACA where the shrine was erected.
Did I mention Jose, her husband, who himself is amazing in every way? What about Destiny (10th Grader) and Lucia (8th grader) who left public school to enroll online so they can work all day at the family restaurant? The reasons to like this family and their business are many. The reasons to help are because it is the right thing to do. So that is my pitch. Tonight as I write this, Mothers are losing their sons and babies in Ukraine. Fathers are losing their lives holding back Putin’s stormtroopers. Tens of thousands are dying, and while we can not do much from here we can look after our own.
We may be helpless, but we are not powerless.
Please join me, Dirk Knudsen, by donating to the Go Fund Me Campaign which is 100% dedicated to business space RENT, no overhead, no admin costs! If we can hit $10,000 by next Wednesday then the family has a really good chance to stay for the foreseeable future! At least they have a shot and can stay on Main Street where we need them!
Watch this Video and see Lucia and her Daughter speak about their plight.
Here is a video of a man attacking their Patio last weekend- which only added to the difficulties.
This is such a great family and fantastic restaurant that we desperately are hoping to keep as neighbors on Main Street. How our City leaders can spend millions of dollars – $40M for baseball?? – yet no help at all for their Main Street businesses less than a block away from them ? What has happened to Hillsboro?
Thank You Dirk for standing up and helping out our Downtown Neighbors.
The city shut down the street and erected a barrier across the street from a fire scene to accommodate exactly one building owner. The city kept that barrier up for a month because it relied on that owner to stabilize the building remains rather than stepping in, handling the stabilization itself and then billing said owner (you know, things an actual city does). Right now the businesses of Main Street have the makings of a fine class-action suit against multiple parties (including the city) for the complete mishandling of this incident.
The Vicencio family shouldn’t have to endure this, and their landlord—who’s now infamous for keeping that one street front space vacant—has a whole lot of nerve. Who do you think is coming through that door, guy? Starbucks isn’t going back to the urban model. The Portland chains just got a whole building to themselves (and more leeway from the city than any existing tenant or landlord). The wine tasting rooms are all set. Banks are done with Downtown Hillsboro real estate. You have multiple open spaces on Main Street, and the charred pit had more than its share of them before the fire. Do you think anyone else is clamoring for frontage in your weird arcade building? Do you think there’s just a surplus of businesses out there waiting to turn your antiquated building into the next Hood River or Astoria hotspot? No.
You have someone willing to rent your two most prominent spaces from you long term if you can help them weather the short term. Your history with this space suggests that you lack the patience necessary to make such things work. That Diversity Cafe is now a fixture in Forest Grove after you booted them two tenants ago tells us all we need to know about your short-term strategy. Give it up, old man. If you and the city ever want a taste of what Old Town Beaverton has, you have to support businesses through the tough times to encourage them through the boom years.
Wow, it is almost as if you get this debacle! 😉