News Flash

West Haven News

Posted on: October 1, 2021

Bysiewicz, Rossi tour Hispanic-owned businesses in city

Bysiewicz and Rossi Tour Hispanic Businesses 003 II (Small)

PHOTO — Dr. Ralph L. Padilla, the owner of the West Haven Animal Clinic at 959 Campbell Ave., holds Gizmo, a Persian cat, with Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, center, and Mayor Nancy R. Rossi during their tour of Hispanic-owned businesses in West Haven on Friday, Oct. 1. Bysiewicz and Rossi also visited Budget Transmission Center at 950 Boston Post Road and La Catrina Restaurant and Cantina at 240 Captain Thomas Blvd. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

WEST HAVEN, Oct. 1, 2021 — In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and Mayor Nancy R. Rossi toured three Hispanic-owned businesses in West Haven on Friday, Oct. 1.

Bysiewicz and Rossi, who was joined by Executive Assistant Louis P. Esposito Jr. and City Clerk Patricia C. Horvath, visited the West Haven Animal Clinic at 959 Campbell Ave., Budget Transmission Center at 950 Boston Post Road and La Catrina Restaurant and Cantina at 240 Captain Thomas Blvd.

With the small businesses in full swing, the state and city leaders talked shop with Animal Clinic owner Dr. Ralph L. Padilla, Budget Transmission owner Sammy Rivera, who also owns Budget Car Wash at 936 Boston Post Road, and La Catrina co-owners Nicolas Altamirano Escobedo and Karen Sanchez Benitez.

Bysiewicz and Rossi received an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of each business and chatted with the owners about surviving the coronavirus pandemic, the importance of small businesses in Connecticut, and how they are driving economic growth statewide, including in West Haven.

Padilla, who has practiced veterinary medicine since 1981 and owned the clinic since 1985, said he takes pride in his Puerto Rican heritage and profession by giving back as much as he has received.

With his Puerto Rican flag-draped office door in view, Padilla paused with Eleanor, a Rottweiler dog; Gizmo, a Persian cat; and Buddy, a cockatoo parrot.

Rossi said Padilla’s pro bono services at the West Haven Animal Shelter include dealing with the prevention and treatment of diseases and injuries in animals, both domestic and wild.

The New York City-born Padilla, who traces his paternal lineage to Naranjito, Puerto Rico, was the first recipient of West Haven’s Hispanic American of the Year award at the inaugural Hispanic Heritage Celebration in 2018.

Rossi and the West Haven Hispanic Heritage Committee bestow the award annually on a Hispanic resident who personifies service in the city’s thriving Hispanic American community.

Rivera, the 2021 Hispanic American of the Year, became the award’s third recipient on Sept. 24. Last year’s ceremony was postponed because of COVID-19.

On Route 1 in Allingtown, Rivera showed Bysiewicz and Rossi his bustling automotive repair shop, established in 2005. As they greeted each of his nine full-time employees, Rivera pointed out that his burgeoning business enterprise includes his 4-year-old touchless car wash next door, a 24-hour operation with four employees.

Rivera was born in Cayey, a mountain town and municipality in central Puerto Rico, and moved to New Haven’s Fair Haven neighborhood with his mother and brother in 1981 at age 4. He moved to West Haven when he purchased Budget Transmission in 2005.

The public-spirited Rivera, who grew up “very poor,” said he appreciates those who helped his business career and believes in paying it forward.

“The American dream is having a lot of employees and taking care of them — and them taking care of me and taking care of my customers,” Rivera said.

Rossi said Rivera’s good works include donating toys amid the pandemic to the Three Kings Day celebration in January and supporting the hurricane relief effort in Puerto Rico.

Bysiewicz and Rossi made their last stop at La Catrina, where the owners opened the visit by thanking Rossi for cutting the ribbon at the Mexican restaurant’s grand opening on Feb. 24.

Altamirano Escobedo said La Catrina serves the taste of Mexico, specializing in such authentic dishes as tacos, burritos, tortas, quesadillas and enchiladas made from his mother’s time-honored recipes, along with savory fish, chicken, steak and pork entrees. The fusion of traditional Mexican cuisine is complemented by creative concoctions of citrusy-flavored margaritas and other zesty cocktails.

Altamirano Escobedo and Sanchez Benitez, who hail from Puebla, Mexico, and now live together in Hamden, chose the West Haven location, housed in the Savin Rock Plaza near the beach, because they “love the city.”

Accentuated by bright hues of the owners’ native Mexico, the remodeled restaurant and bar, open for lunch and dinner daily, is decorated with Spanish furnishings, knickknacks and murals.

The striking theme of La Catrina is “Dia de los Muertos,” or “Day of the Dead,” the popular Mexican holiday that commemorates loved ones who have died.

“La Catrina,” a female skeleton donning a dress hat with feathers, is the referential image of death in Mexico and the symbol of Dia de los Muertos, observed Nov. 1-2.

As a tribute to the culture and people of Mexico, the restaurant’s festive and spacious dining room and barroom are enlivened by vivid pink and yellow stucco walls that showcase Day of the Dead-themed murals with skeleton faces painted by West Haven artist Cruz Manuel.

Like Padilla and Rivera, the owners of La Catrina are committed to supporting their vibrant community and carrying on the proud traditions of Mexico.

West Haven’s diversity is its strength, said Rossi, adding that the owners of all four businesses are a testament to the promise and greatness of America.

In observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs through Oct. 15, West Haven recognizes the important legacy of Hispanic Americans and the inspiring contributions they have made to the culture and history of the United States.

Hispanics have had a profound and positive influence on the civic and cultural life of America, enhancing and shaping the national character with centuries-old traditions that reflect the multiethnic and multicultural customs of their community.

Hispanic Heritage Month, which traces its roots to 1968, begins each year on Sept. 15, the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile also celebrate their independence days during that period.

— MICHAEL P. WALSH, Public Relations Information Coordinator

Bysiewicz and Rossi Tour Hispanic Businesses 003 II (Small)

Dr. Ralph L. Padilla, the owner of the West Haven Animal Clinic at 959 Campbell Ave., holds Gizmo, a Persian cat, with Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, center, and Mayor Nancy R. Rossi during their tour of Hispanic-owned businesses in West Haven on Friday, Oct. 1. Bysiewicz and Rossi also visited Budget Transmission Center at 950 Boston Post Road and La Catrina Restaurant and Cantina at 240 Captain Thomas Blvd. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Bysiewicz and Rossi Tour Hispanic Businesses 008 II (Small)

Bysiewicz and Rossi pose with Buddy, a cockatoo, at the West Haven Animal Clinic. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Bysiewicz and Rossi Tour Hispanic Businesses 020 II (Small)

Rossi presents Bysiewicz with a West Haven centennial-emblazoned tote bag containing the new centennial book, “City of West Haven: Village to Town,” along with a centennial coin, lapel pin and decal. Looking on are City Clerk Patricia C. Horvath and mayoral Executive Assistant Louis P. Esposito Jr. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Bysiewicz and Rossi Tour Hispanic Businesses 034 II (Small)

Budget Transmission Center owner Sammy Rivera, center, is joined outside his automotive repair shop at 950 Boston Post Road by, from left, City Clerk Patricia C. Horvath, Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and mayoral Executive Assistant Louis P. Esposito Jr. Rivera also owns Budget Car Wash at 936 Boston Post Road. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Bysiewicz and Rossi Tour Hispanic Businesses 026 II (Small)

Rossi laughs as Bysiewicz jokes with Rivera in his office. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Bysiewicz and Rossi Tour Hispanic Businesses 042 II (Small)

Rivera is joined by his 23-year-old son, Nicholas Rivera, and Bysiewicz, Rossi and Esposito. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Bysiewicz and Rossi Tour Hispanic Businesses 054 II (Small)

La Catrina Restaurant and Cantina co-owners Nicolas Altamirano Escobedo and Karen Sanchez Benitez, center, are joined outside their Mexican restaurant at 240 Captain Thomas Blvd. by, from left, mayoral Executive Assistant Louis P. Esposito Jr., Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and City Clerk Patricia C. Horvath. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Bysiewicz and Rossi Tour Hispanic Businesses 049 II (Small)

Altamirano Escobedo pauses with Rossi and Bysiewicz in La Catrina’s barroom. The barroom and dining room feature “Day of the Dead”-themed murals with skeleton faces painted by West Haven artist Cruz Manuel. The popular Mexican holiday celebrates loved ones who have died. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in West Haven News

Fighting Cancer 002 (2) (Small)

Fighting cancer

Posted on: December 6, 2021
Energy Assistance

Energy assistance offered in West Haven

Posted on: September 29, 2021
Ida Storm Damage 031 II (Small)

Rossi assesses Ida storm damage

Posted on: September 3, 2021
Brown Sworn In as New UNH Police Chief 003 II (Small)

Brown sworn in as new UNH police chief

Posted on: August 24, 2021
Frank Corso Marks 100th Birthday II (Small)

Corso marks 100th birthday

Posted on: July 31, 2021
Centennial Book Cover Revealed 007 II (Small)

Centennial book cover revealed

Posted on: July 28, 2021
Painting of Old Town Hall Donated 006 II (Small)

Painting of old Town Hall donated

Posted on: July 28, 2021
Sandcastle Contest 2021

Sandcastle queens

Posted on: July 19, 2021
Girl Scout Day 2021 II (Small)

Girl Scout Day observed in West Haven

Posted on: March 16, 2021
Susan Dupee Celebrates 100th Birthday II (Small)

West Haven centenarian celebrates birthday

Posted on: February 18, 2021