In the crazed build-up to the presidential debate, I stopped by one of my favorite neighborhood spots for food and fellowship: Rosa Linda's Mexican Cafe. Turns out, I missed the news right under my nose.
And why not? Rosa Linda's is not just a Mexican restaurant, but its founders are Mormons.
Rosa Linda's is also a homegrown institution, holding down this particular corner of northwest Denver for close to thirty years, long before the area became one of the country's hippest hipster neighborhoods, as Forbes recently called it. The very first year Rosa Linda Aguirre started cooking in her little storefront kitchen, we gave Rosa Linda's Mexican Cafe a Best of Denver award. And as the restaurant grew, so did the family that had founded it.
We watched as the children of Rosa Linda and Virgil Aguirre grew from kids helping out at their parents' restaurant to grownups who are now running their parents' restaurant and having kids of their own. The latest grandchild was at the restaurant on Tuesday; Virgil told me that he and Rosa Linda, who've worked hard all their lives, were recently able to take a vacation.
This is a neighborhood place, but the Aguirres consider the entire community their neighborhood; every Thanksgiving, they cook up a free turkey/green chile feast that feeds thousands of people across the city. Their acts of charity don't end there, nor does their community involvement. But this spot is not a photo op.
Rosa Linda and Virgil are Mormon -- which accounts for why a Romney operative thought this restaurant would be the perfect spot for a campaign stop. But the Aguirres, who would feed anyone -- and often do, for free -- did not want their restaurant to be part of a political campaign. And so they said no.
Oscar Aguirre, the eldest son, had written about that on his Facebook page, and we published a story about the request/refusal Tuesday afternoon.
And then all hell broke loose, with callers from across the country harassing the family for refusing to serve Romney -- which was not the case.
As we reported, the Aguirres rejected the idea of serving as a campaign stop. But haters are not close readers. So here's the note Oscar sent out late yesterday:
I (Oscar) would like to apologize to EVERY ONE WE MAY HAVE offended concerning Governor Mitt Romney, and the article in Westword. We did not refuse him service yesterday. THAT IS FALSE!
As stated in the article, when we were contacted by the campaign of candidate Romney on August 6th, by a former Mormon missionary, that he would like to bring the candidate here, NOT TO EAT but; it was presented to us that he wanted to do a political stump here. Talk about our small business and how because we share our religious views with the candidate and are Latinos it would be great for him to do a campaign stop. We did say NO because we are not Republicans, nor are we Democrats. We will welcome any sitting President of the United States. But we did not want to be a campaign stopping place....
Since this article came out we have been getting hate emails, from people across the country, people sending us death threats and people calling us telling us we are racist... that they hope we go out of business. All are welcome to join us for family meal! we may not be your cup of tea but we still welcome anybody with open arms.
We DID NOT WANT TO BE A POLITICAL STOP!!
If we do go out of business our Annual Thanksgiving Feast to the needy would end. Last year we fed 5500 meals, this year we may serve above 6000 meals. Please let the American public know that we are not racist or bigots. We are just a working family wanting to help our community and our country by serving those in need.
PLEASE STOP THE HATE!!
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Read our original post, "Mitt Romney stopped at Chipotle this morning -- but is not invited to Rosa Linda's."