Area Mexican Restaurants Were Braced for the Trump Tariffs That Didn't Happen

Slots of fresh shrimp for sale at Pescaderia Mi Lindo Guaymas.EXPAND
Slots of fresh shrimp for sale at Pescaderia Mi Lindo Guaymas.
Jose-Ignacio Castaneda
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Servers carrying platters of tacos, which are garnished with avocados, sail across the floor. A woman can barely be seen through the rising smoke of the griddle. As she cycled through raw and cooked tortillas, Alejandrina Parra, a tortilla maker at Sin Son Nay, deplored president Donald Trump’s new tariffs that would have gone into effect today, June 10.

“These tariffs won’t just affect restaurants, they’ll affect everyone,” Parra said.

On May 30, Trump announced in a tweet that he would implement a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican imports beginning June 10. Additionally, Trump threatened to increase the tariff percentage by 5 percent each month until Mexico stops the flow of Central American migrants into the U.S.

On Friday, June 7, Trump backtracked his threat by tweeting that the U.S. and Mexico had reached an immigration deal that would disarm the tariffs before they went into effect on Monday.

The tariff hike would have reached 25 percent on October 1 if Trump had followed through with his proposal. The negotiations between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Mexico’s Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard lasted three days.

But before those three days were up, Saed Hamid, owner of Pescaderia Mi Lindo Guaymas, had already started to feel the effects of impending tariffs.

Hamid spoke about the consequences of the tariffs as he unpacked a shipment of seafood that had just arrived that day. In that haul, the price per pound of imported shrimp had increased 40 cents.

Hamid’s restaurant is only 40-something-days-old, and he was astonished by the demand there is for Mexican seafood in Phoenix. He described how his restaurant, which is on the corner of Van Buren Street and 31st Avenue, has experienced a steady bustle of business since opening.

Nevertheless, Hamid believes if the tariffs had happened, it could have affected his newborn restaurant because he would have had to raise the menu prices.

“My customers will continue to buy, but it just won’t be the same as before,” Hamid said of potential price increases.

In addition to specializing in imported seafood, Hamid’s restaurant also offers a large spread of imported Mexican goods. On even just the chips and salsas, Hamid would have had to increase the prices on the majority of his products.

Two boxes of imported Mexican beer, which would have been affected by Trump's tariffs, for sale at Fiesta Market & Liquor.EXPAND
Two boxes of imported Mexican beer, which would have been affected by Trump's tariffs, for sale at Fiesta Market & Liquor.
Jose-Ignacio Castaneda

While imported beer and tequila cannot be found on the shelves of Pescaderia Mi Lindo Guaymas, they can be found just a few steps away at Fiesta Market & Liquor.

Mazen Hamid, manager of Fiesta Market & Liquor, expressed his grievances with the potential tariffs as he walked around the store and fulfilled the drive-thru orders. The store imports about half of its products from Mexico, and specializes in Mexican beer and tequila.

Hamid explained how tariffs would force him to increase the prices on imported goods, which would then affect his sales of Mexican alcohol. As of April, Mexico is the largest exporter of beer to the U.S., according to the Beer Institute.

“If the prices on Mexican imported beer increase, then people will just start drinking Bud Light and other American beers,” Hamid said.

Aside from Mexican beer and tequila, the avocado is one of the products that consumers would feel the loss of most. The U.S. is the top importer of avocados from Mexico, according to a report by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Felipe Guzman, owner of La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop and the recently opened La Marquesa, spoke about the possible results and reactions to the increase in avocado prices.

“We will be forced to increase prices, and at the end of the day the person whom this will affect the most is the consumer because he will be the one who will pay for these new taxes,” Guzman said.

When asked if tariffs would have caused La Santisima to stop selling avocados or guacamole, Guzman explained that the demand for avocados will persist, despite the uptick in prices.

“The tariffs on produce will affect the entire restaurant industry," Guzman said, "not just the Mexican one."

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