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Wednesday
Aug012018

Restaurant serves American comfort food, 'barbecue diplomacy' in Mexico City

Laura May Grogan/Pinche Gringo BBQ(MEXICO CITY) -- A restaurant in Mexico City is using "barbecue diplomacy" to bring the U.S., Mexico and deportees closer together, according to its owner.

By serving Texas-style barbecue and hosting events for the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Halloween, Pinche Gringo BBQ's mission is to change the stereotype Mexicans have of American food and culture.

Owner Dan Defossey told ABC News' Start Here podcast that some Mexicans believe frozen food is served predominately in the U.S. because it's what they see exported to Mexico.

"What we've done in the last four-and-a-half years is positioned ourselves as the cultural representative for the United States here in this city," Defossey said.

Pinche Gringo, which loosely translates to "Darn American," has served as a slice of home -- and even provided job opportunities -- for a growing group of people in Mexico City: deportees.

Hugo Hernandez, Pinche Gringo's kitchen manager, came to the U.S. illegally in 2004 but was later deported in connection with a DUI. He's been with the barbecue joint for four years.

"Coming back from the states, I was lost. I had no hope, nothing to hold onto," Hernandez told Start Here. "And then when I got here, I saw an opportunity for my career."

Another employee, Victor Cruz Ortega, lived in the U.S. for almost 30 years, but he was deported in February after running a red light and had to leave his family behind, Defossey said.

"When I was hearing this story, I got emotional. I started crying. And I'm not really an emotional person, but what I was so sad about is that, you know, this is now a victim of a public policy." Defossey said he didn't initially know he had hired a few deportees, but now he has seven working at Pinche Gringo. "They understand more what we do, and they have a home that they feel familiar."

This story is featured in Wednesday's edition of ABC News' Start Here podcast.

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