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Friday, Jun 9, 2023

Kitchen Not Too Small for Seven Sisters, Their Creations

Kitchen Not Too Small for Seven Sisters, Their Creations By JEFF WEISS Contributing Reporter Clad in lavishly embroidered green and white blouses, wearing black skirts, with long rainbow colored ribbons dangling from their hair, the seven Munos sisters smile and greet customers at Panorama City’s Las Huaresitas restaurant. Born in the Mexican state of Michoacan, in the Patzcuaro region, Graciela, Leticia, Rosa Maria, Dolores, Marielena, Cesilia, and Olivia have served up traditional Michoacan fare for the past year in the Plaza del Valle mall. A primarily Hispanic clientele waft in and out, clamoring for the restaurant’s speciality: gorditas. Gorditas were the impetus behind their decision to open the restaurant last June. The sisters had gained notoriety for their homemade gorditas that had caused Panorama City residents to flock to the girls’ home to purchase the thick stuffed corn tortillas. Eventually, business grew so rapidly that the seven sisters decided to take the next logical step and operate out of a storefront. The sisters range in age from oldest, 40-year-old Graciela, to 25-year-old Olivia, serving up the cuisine which differs from typical Mexican food because of its unique seasonings. One might imagine it difficult for seven sisters to peacefully coexist in such close quarters, yet the Munos’ claim it has been harmonious from day one. “It has been a very good experience. All of our unity has made things much easier. Our union provides strength,” said Cesilia Munos, who handles the business end of the restaurant as well as the stocking of merchandise. “All of the sisters participate in the cooking chores. “In order to make decisions, we all speak to one another. Everyone gets the chance to express their opinion and we decide on the best one together. People are always surprised when we tell them that we have never been in any major fights or anything resembling that.” Small establishment Las Huaresitas is small, with only five tables in the entire restaurant, with a bucolic mural of the sisters birthplace in Patzcuaro. Amid the smell of fried tortillas, cheese, and various meats, visitors to the restaurant gaze upon the region’s tranquil lake where villagers wearing wide brimmed white hats paddle in the shadow of a river valley. Brown and red mountains slop set against low-slung white, maroon-roofed homes. . “The first sisters to come here were Graciela and Leticia in 1976. Once they arrived they gradually sent for the rest of us until the entire family except for my parents had come,” Cesilia Munos said. “We came for the many opportunities to work. We are a very humble family.” The name Las Huaresitas translated into English means a pretty woman hailing from the Michoacan state and accordingly the food tends to stay close to the girls’ origins. The state is known for its lakes, beautiful scenery and delicious food. “I’ve been coming since they opened. I come for the food, the fresh tortillas, and the many different kinds of salsas. They are always very friendly and always smiling, “said Jorge Aguinaga, a customer and fellow Michoacan native. Relaxed atmosphere The girls’ affinity seems to be much more than rhetoric as they playfully banter and kid each other, constantly smiling and laughing at familiar inside jokes. According to the sisters, the loose and relaxed environment helps to keep any tensions minimal. The customers pick up on the familial atmosphere, often stopping to chat with one of the sisters while ordering up to 20 or 30 gorditas to bring back to work or their homes. “The food is great. Everything is great and the sisters are incredibly kind and make everyone feel very welcomed,” customer and Panorama City resident Danny Ochoa said. Since the business already had an established clientele when it opened, it has been no surprise that the restaurant has been consistently profitable. While the sisters enjoy working together, each of them eyes the future. “Our goal is that we hope each of us can own our own restaurant, serving up the traditional Michoacan food that we grew up with,” Cesilia Munos. “We all used to work at different restaurants in America and back home, but by far the best experience yet has been working together at Las Huaresitas. It has been wonderful each day. It is our own version of the American dream.”

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