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Local eateries honored for contributions

on December 2, 2009

When Eduardo Pineda decided to solicit some donations from local businesses, he didn’t get his hopes up too high.

“With the economy the way it is, you sort of go in knowing that small businesses may not be willing or able to give,” said Pineda, who serves as Neighborhood Public Art Program Manager for the city’s Art Center.

But Pineda, was happy to stand corrected.

“The three businesses that stepped up were the first three we asked,” Pineda said. “It’s amazing, and it says something about Richmond’s business community.”

The trio of local restaurants donated about $600 worth of food, helping to feed volunteers, artists and community leaders during three days of early October workshops held in support of a mural commissioned as a public art project.

For their efforts, the owners were awarded “Small Business of the Month” certificates by Mayor Gayle McLaughlin during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

“We know how important art is to our history and our future,” McLaughlin said to more than 100 people in council chambers. “And we thank our businesses for being there with us in making Richmond a better place.”

The businesses honored were Pepito’s Deli, La Plazuela and La Selva Taqueria, longtime local Mexican eateries. La Plazuela, whose owner did not attend, is located in San Pablo.

Cesar Segura, Taqueria La Selva’s owner, kept his public remarks short, thanking his customers and the city of Richmond for supporting him during 12 years of business.

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin presents an award to Pepito's Deli co-owner Hugo Vega.

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin presents an award to Pepito's Deli co-owner Hugo Vega.

Hugo Vega, part owner of the family-owned Pepito’s Deli, said the city was on an upswing, and said his and other businesses comprising the 23rd Street Merchant’s Association must continue to support their community.

“It’s no easy task to do business in Richmond, not with the media and all,” Vega said. “But we can see what Richmond can be and that 23rd street can be a place where families get together.”

After the meeting, Vega said that his father, Ralph Vega, and other members of the family that has run Pepito’s since 1976 have always looked to give back.

“We’ve always chosen to be part of the solution in Richmond,” Vega said. “And that’s more important than short-term profits.”

In a telephone interview early Tuesday, Ralph Vega said profits have been meager this year and that he has had to turn down some requests for donations.

The full fruits of the food donations made by the businesses should be on display by June, when the finished community mural, which celebrates multiculturalism, will be installed near the Civic Center for public display.

The contribution will not be forgotten, Pineda said.

“It’s a community project, and the food was another element of bringing as many of us together as possible.”

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