SCHENECTADY — Mexican Radio opened in downtown Schenectady in 2014 as the third location of a popular restaurant.
It is now the last location: The owners closed the Lower Manhattan location in 2017 and announced the closure of the city of Hudson location on their website Tuesday.
The Hudson restaurant had been open for more than 16 years, in which time the owners believe it helped make Columbia County a culinary destination.
Like many eateries, it apparently relied on immigrants for the often hard, often low-paid work of running a restaurant: “Team Mexican Radio” cited the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration for the loss of our “Mexican Culinary Brothers,” though it stopped short of directly blaming that for the closure.
A lengthy message on its website reads in part:
“Many of those same Culinary Brothers, who worked right beside us for close to 20 years and who were key to helping us launch all 3 Mexican Radio locations, have now been forcibly and violently ejected from this country, tearing out the very soul of our kitchen staff, our Familia de Cocina.
“So too we have felt firsthand the painful loss of our longstanding Front of House Familia from both locations, many of whom having worked beside us for years if not decades. With their own growing families we’ve seen them having to upend their lives, scrambling to survive the increasing burdens the hardworking middle class is coping with every single day. The signs of losing them and the growing affliction this has created for our local business community are now visible everywhere.”
Mexican Radio (which takes its name from the 1982 song of the same title by Wall of Voodoo) was founded in 1996 in a storefront on the edge of Manhattan’s Little Italy neighborhood and later moved to larger space nearby. When that closed in early April 2017 (before President Trump’s immigration crackdown began in earnest but after the first of Gov. Cuomo’s minimum wage hikes took effect) a message on the restaurant’s website blamed the ever-increasing cost of rent, wages and overhead.
It said these factors were impossibly at odds with the longstanding goal of providing comfort food at a reasonable price to neighborhood residents.
The Schenectady location opened in June 2014 after the lengthy overhaul of a circa-1865 building at the corner of Broadway and State Street in the heart of downtown Schenectady. The roughly $3 million project benefited from tax breaks and development incentives.
Managers there did not return a call Tuesday seeking comment for this story.
However, the website message about the Hudson closure appeared to indicate that the Schenectady location has escaped the brunt of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
“Our newest creation, Radio Schenectady, is now about 5 years old and a gorgeous testament to our continued mission of bringing handcrafted Mexican comfort food and drinks to our tables. As with its predecessors, our Radio Familia is growing there too and we look forward to seeing you again someday soon.
"Muchissimas Gracias for all your support over the years. It helps to warm our hearts in these difficult times.”