January 29, 2018
Amid controversy, Pico Rivera eatery takes ‘The Mayor,’ named after Gregory Salcido, off the menu
A popular lunch special at Zapien’s Salsa Grill named to honor El Rancho High teacher and Pico Rivera City Councilman Gregory Salcido was pulled from the menu Sunday in response to videos that surfaced two days prior in which he is heard making anti-military remarks.
Chef Marco Zapien named the enchilada plate the politician frequently ordered “The Mayor,” in his honor in 2015, when Salcido was mayor, his third, one-year rotation with the gavel since being elected in 1999.
“It was a dish — chile verde served over two enchiladas — that Mr. Salcido specially ordered every time he came into the restaurant,” Zapien said. “So I decided to put it on our menu of lunch specials.”
On Sunday and Monday, Zapien — who has co-owned the restaurant with his father, Jess, for 24 years — received the first of three emails asking him to remove the meal from the menu. At least one was from out of state.
He did so willingly.
“I am outraged by what he said against our military personnel and our veterans,” said Zapien, who for the past 15 years has donated his time to teaching aspiring chefs at local high schools. “I don’t condone or support anything Mr. Salcido said.”
In the videos posted Friday on Facebook, one of which has been viewed more than 6 million times, Salcido is heard saying the only reason a student would go into the military is because they don’t qualify for college, and that military members are “lowest of the low.”
A plate being named for someone is not unusual at Salsa Grill. Regulars who repeatedly order the same item often get their concoctions named after them, Zapien said.
“It’s just something fun we do,” he said.
Zapien — who last month initiated a program for all military personnel currently serving and veterans, as well as first-responders to receive 50 percent off their bill — responded personally to the emails.
“We 100 percent support our military servicemen and women and DO NOT, in any way, support Mr. Salcido’s stance or his comments made public from his classroom. I have great respect for all who serve and have served in our armed forces and I will remove that menu item immediately,” he wrote in response to one of the emails.
While the chile verde-adorned enchiladas won’t be called “The Mayor” anymore, patrons can get the dish made for them upon request, Zapien added.