The homegrown Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant chain, founded in Fort Collins 29 years ago, is kicking off an entire month of Cinco de Mayo specials starting on Friday, May 1, at all seven of its cantinas around the state (Rio on the Rocks at Coors Field is not included in this deal). “Every year we look forward to celebrating the start of summer with Cinco de Mayo, but we decided one day is just not enough,” says Rio founder Pat McGaughran. “There is simply nothing like enjoying the world’s best margarita in the Colorado sun, so why not give people the chance to celebrate all month long?
"Rio has been around for a while," he adds, "and I'm not sure Cinco de Mayo was celebrated much back then, at least in Colorado. It's our acknowledgement of the great heritage of the Latin community here."
Cinco de Rio will include new specials each week, live music every Wednesday and a unique way to allow guests to cash in on menu giveaways. Each location will display a large block of ice on the patio with tokens embedded; as the ice melts, customers can retrieve the tokens and exchange them for various food items from the menu. Depending on the weather conditions, the ice could melt faster or slower, McGaughran notes, extending the giveaways if temperatures stay cool. Weekly beer-and-a-shot combinations will also be part of the month's deals.
In preparation for patio weather, the Rio's LoDo location — by far its largest — has updated its outdoor area. A few years ago this Rio started running a separate food trailer, Black Crow, on its patio. But now the patio has been extended and Black Crow has been converted to a full-service bar rather than a food-service kitchen with a separate menu. "It turned out that people just wanted Rio tacos and margaritas," McGaughran explains.
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Patio guests will still be able to order from the Rio's regular menu and will also have access to a full-service bar outside, which should be doing a big business this weekend. Adds McGaughran: "Hopefully the weather will cooperate."