BINGHAMTON, NY – This week’s Black Owned 607 features a Mexican restaurant that took advantage of its building’s history to survive the pandemic.

El Pulpo opened on Upper Front Street in the Town of Chenango in June 2018.

Owner Bernardo Ramirez grew up in the Domincan Republic working in a seafood market where his nickname was Pulpo which is Spanish for octopus.

His menu adds Caribbean influences to the Mexican fare, with lots of seafood options including octopus.

The restaurant is located in a former McDonald’s so when the pandemic began last year, they reopened the drive through.

“In the beginning, people were very scared of the epidemic and that helped us a lot. That became very popular and people just call and pick it up in the drive through and they don’t have to get out of the car. We’re going to keep that because it’s more comfortable for us,” says Ramirez.

El Pulpo just reopened inside dining this month.

Ramirez says he doesn’t feel like he’s been discriminated against because of his skin color.

But his wife, Beth Duhr-Ramirez, says she’s more sensitive and concerned that her husband is treated fairly

Ramirez says a major part of his success is the relationships he’s built with regular customers.

“When people come over here, we treat them like family. I don’t like to call them customers, our guests become like part of us. I think that helps us a lot and people love it,” says Ramirez.

Ramirez says he’s very appreciative to his guests for their support through the pandemic.

El Pulpo is open Monday through Thursday 11 to 7, Fridays and Saturdays 11 to 8 and Sundays noon to 8.

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