Ah Mexico, land of colonial towns, gorgeous beaches and hostile restaurant takeovers… Say what? That’s right, wandermelon got word that the Battle of El Pez continues along the sunny sands of the normally tranquil town of Tulum, located along Mexico’s Riviera Maya. No, it’s not some vestige of colonial struggle against Spain, and Sub-Commander Marcos and the Zapatistas are not at fault. The players in a nearly bloody struggle over a plot of land and a mariscos joint features a Mexican national, one Gaston Alegre Lopez – a well-connected former local radio station owner – vs. entrepreneur John Kendall, an American by way of Australia.
Kendall, well-known in the area for such establishments as La Zebra and Mezzanine, both popular boutique hotels and restaurants (full disclosure: we know and love Mezzanine, their Friday DJ parties and Thai food kick ass), found himself hosting 30 uninvited “private security guards” (in some circles, these are known as paid thugs) at his El Pez restaurant on May 14. Seems they had come to shut down the business at Alegre’s bidding; his response to a December ’07 court ruling that allowed Kendall to maintain title to the property. Reports say both employees and patrons were abruptly tossed in the street (no little candies after the meal or anything) by the “security guards” who then barricaded the restaurant with barbed wire and began relieving the establishment of liquor bottles, computers and a stereo system. Giving new life to the iconic ‘Mexican Stand-off,’ Kendall then showed up with 60 supporters (getting good, right?) and faced down Alegre’s crew. “300” it wasn’t as tensions and the crowd dissipated, leaving Kendall to claim victory in Round One. Or so he thought. Later, police from the bright and shiny tourist town of Playa del Carmen turned up and showed Kendall’s boys the door.
The whole matter is now before a local magistrate who will determine who holds title to the land and can claim themselves victor of the Battle of El Pez. All we can say is: Viva la Red Snapper with a side of plantains! Stay tuned, this should be one hot tamale.