Lower Greenville's La Panaderia Chichen Itza has some unexpected allies in the fight against gentrification. The restaurant has a history of hosting concerts, and next month, hardcore punk and grindcore musicians will throw a benefit concert to help the restaurant pay its rising property taxes.
“Chichen Itza let us play shows there back in the day,” promoter Jesse Fuentes says. “Obviously, that whole area is becoming more gentrified, and the taqueria is one of the last family owned businesses in that area, so it’s nice to help out.”
Fuentes says Sergio Sanchez, who helps run the taqueria for his parents, approached him about the possibility of a benefit. Bands are still being booked, but Escuela, Pissed Grave, Hood Rat and Mouth Breather have already confirmed they will perform at the Jan. 5 concert.
“When [Sergio] asked me, I was like, ‘Wow, I know the whole situation in that area,'” Fuentes says. “I’m not one to shit talk gentrification, but it would be nice if they had a fighting chance to survive in their own neighborhood.”
Fuentes doesn't know the exact amount Chichen Itza needs, but he's hopeful that the benefit will raise it, and perhaps a little more. “We’re just trying to get the word out and raise as much as we can.”
Fuentes and his friends started hosting DIY shows at Chichen Itza and another nearby restaurant, Taqueria Pedritos, several years ago. At the time, they were having a hard time finding venues willing to book extreme music such as hardcore punk, power violence and grindcore.
“Chichen Itza really allowed bands that weren’t able to get on bigger shows the ability to book their own and build their own communities,” Fuentes says. “It also gave a way for kids who wanted to learn how to book bands the chance to do it themselves. It was a safe space in a DIY spot that didn’t really exist then."
Several established acts have performed at the taquerias over the years, including Power Trip, Kill the Client, Terminator 2 and ACxDC. Fuentes hopes the benefit will help give Chichen Itza a more solid footing and even enable the owners to expand the building.
While he's grateful for the opportunities the restaurant gave underground bands to build their fan bases, it's the tight community at Chichen Itza that Fuentes remembers the most. “It was just a spot for like-minded fuck-ups to hang out with people that were not as fucked up as them and help each other get through shit."
7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5, La Panaderia Chichen Itza, 5710 Richmond Ave., $7-$12, see Facebook.
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