Food  |  News & Politics

Neighbors Debate: Does the Logo for This New DC Mexican Restaurant Portray a Stereotype?

La Siesta opened this week in Chevy Chase DC.

A screen shot of La Siesta's website.

La Siesta, a new restaurant in Chevy Chase DC, has come under scrutiny for its logo: an image of a sleeping man with a big mustache wearing a sombrero and sarape. Billed as serving “Mexican food So Cal style,” the eatery offers a menu of various tacos, burritos, and quesadillas on Connecticut Avenue. In various Instagram posts, it uses hashtags like #doyouevensiestabro and #putmorefiestainyoursiesta.

The criticism broke out Thursday on the active Chevy Chase neighborhood listserv after one person emailed the group: “I hate to be a Debbie Downer but I feel I should comment on the logo for this new restaurant. I really think the stereotype of the ‘sleepy Mexican’ in a sombrero with a big moustache [sic] might be offensive to some folks […] Are the owners of the restaurant Mexican? I’m not sure. I can’t comment on the food because I haven’t been and I like to be supportive of local businesses but felt I should say something.”

Others chimed in on the debate. “Taking a siesta is simply taking a nap–a custom that impresses me as beneficial. So taking a siesta isn’t, to my mind, ‘the sleepy Mexican,'” noted one commenter. The same person, however, agreed that the logo did indeed illustrate a stereotype, just that it wasn’t “a cruel stereotype or one that’s intended to hurt.”

 

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Reached by phone Friday afternoon, La Siesta’s co-owner Tim Walsh (who also runs nearby restaurant the Avenue), explained that his fellow owner, Paul Madrid, who is Mexican American, created the logo. “If he felt that this was [misrepresenting] his heritage, then I’m sure we would have not gone with this logo,” says Walsh. “I assure you that as a Mexican American himself he finds that this logo is not demeaning at all, and I would imagine his father and grandmother and grandfather would also agree.” (Madrid was not immediately available for comment because he is running the kitchen on its opening weekend.)

Walsh has worked with Madrid since 2005, when they were at the now-closed restaurants Town Hall and Sixth Engine. “Some of his businesses were defeated by the pandemic so we got back together,” says Walsh, adding: “Paul has had this concept since he was a kid growing up in East LA so it’s kind of annoying that people are bringing [the logo] up right now.”

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Web Producer/Writer

Rosa joined Washingtonian in 2016 after graduating from Mount Holyoke College. She covers arts and culture for the magazine. She’s written about anti-racism efforts at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, dinosaurs in the revamped fossil hall at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, and the horrors of taking a digital detox. When she can, she performs with her family’s Puerto Rican folkloric music ensemble based in Jersey City. She lives in Adams Morgan.