Milford butcher with Latin flair aims to open this month

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MILFORD — The family that owns and operates Bibi’s Original Mexican Restaurant & Bar will open a butcher shop called La Vaquita in the old Pavlik’s sub shop on North Walnut Street.

The store will sell a wide variety of products, many of which will work for Latin American cuisine, but its signature offering will be a line of preseasoned meats that home cooks can throw right on the grill.

“They’ll have the same taste as Bibi’s,” said co-owner Guadalupe Garcia Hernandez. “They’re the same recipes.”

While products like this aren’t unheard of in the U.S., they’re extremely common in many parts of Latin America.

The family has lots of culinary experience, as they’ve been running the award-winning Bibi’s since 2014, but Ms. Garcia Hernandez said operating a butcher shop will be completely new territory.

“This is our first time,” she said. “We’re nervous.”

The family saw an unmet demand in the local meat market.

“We don’t have a lot of variety in the meat available here. Even us,” Ms. Garcia Hernandez said. “Sometimes, we have a hard time getting meat (in the restaurant).”

Additionally, she found the idea of repurposing a building that had stood vacant for years attractive. Her husband, Luis Alberto Rodriguez, had always said it would make a good location for a butcher, and the two ultimately decided it would be a good project for their family.

Ms. Garcia Hernandez’s son, 19-year-old Arlleneiri Rodriguez, and her 21-year-old daughter, Edenexis Rodriguez, help out with the family businesses.

“I’m excited. It’s kind of sick,” Arlleneiri, whose nickname is Bibi, said of the new business. “Hopefully, I’ll learn a lot.”

He thinks people will come to La Vaquita from far and wide.

“I know there’s (a butcher) in Camden. Not many people can get there from this far south,” Arlleneiri said. “It’s easier to reach (us) because we’re dead in the middle of Delaware. I do think people are going to come.”

Ms. Rodriguez, a neuroscience student at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania home this semester due to the pandemic, is also excited about the new venture.

“I just thought we were going to be a restaurant, but then having them expand and want to continue to make new opportunities for themselves and other people” is great, she said.

Ms. Rodriguez is also, unsurprisingly, a big fan of Bibi’s.

“I literally would choose to eat here over any other place,” she said. “A lot of people have been coming to us for many years, and they enjoy our food and know that it’s not typically what they would get at some other Mexican restaurant.”

She said the food is deeply authentic.

“All the food we do back there are our parents’ recipes or are from other family members,” Ms. Rodriguez said. “The salsas that my dad makes here are recipes from my grandfather.”

Ms. Garcia Hernandez said that while most Mexican restaurants in the U.S. feature Tex-Mex cuisine, her recipes are ones that people actually make in Mexico.

Ms. Rodriguez said food has been a big part of her dad’s life since he was a kid.

“In Mexico, my dad’s family would go from fair to fair and sell tacos,” she said. “They also had a little bar,” just like Bibi’s does.

Ms. Garcia Hernandez said she and her husband first came to United States in 1999.

“We’re natives of the state of Veracruz in Mexico,” she said.

Her arrival in Milford was “a casualty of fate,” she added.

“One of my brothers got here first, and he invited us,” she said. The family still has relatives in Mexico and California, who they visit occasionally.

“I love the people in Milford. ... I like Delaware. It’s a calm place,” Ms. Garcia Hernandez said. “I wouldn’t change Delaware for anything.”

The family had initially planned to open La Vaquita on Good Friday, but some construction issues in the space led them to postpone it until later in April.

“We’re going to have great specials,” Ms. Garcia Hernandez of the upcoming grand opening. “It’s a great opportunity.”

For more information on La Vaquita, visit its Facebook page.