Highlight – Gallos Realize Dream, Purchase Jose’s Cantina
ST. IGNACE, April 27, 2022 – From the moment you walk through the front door, you’re greeted as family. The kindness of the Gallos engulfs you before you’re even seated. Genuine and upbeat, the colorful atmosphere, accented by the immensity of Lake Huron shining clear across to Turtle Island (Mackinac), fills you with warmth and gratitude for the space. The Gallo’s enthusiasm coupled with the stunning views, is infectious and you can’t help but root for the success of the long-standing business.
The Sault Tribe Thrive team has been working with Sault Tribe member, Allecia Gallo, and her husband Roberto, over the past year as they’ve navigated the pandemic, operating Jose’s for former owners Joe & Sandy Durm, as well as working through the challenges associated with becoming first-time business owners. Their fortitude has finally paid off, after more than a decade of running the front and back of the house of Jose’s Cantina in St. Ignace, Michigan, the Gallos closed on the purchase of the business in late March.
Under New Ownership
The space at 1101 State Street has seen its share of change, first getting its start as the Dockside Restaurant in 1988. “The water used to come right up to the building out back, as it receded the shrubs and trees were eventually cleared out by the tide, and now we have a nice beach right outside our door,” remarks Roberto during a recent tour of the property with Sault Tribe Thrive. “It’s a huge space inside, we seat 128 in our booths and tables and have space for another 58 on our back patio. We got rid of the arches and opened up the dining area to showcase the wall of windows looking out onto Lake Huron,” adds Allecia. We rounded out our tour with a glimpse of their beautiful new logo, designed by acclaimed San Diego tattoo artist, @SDTATTOOMANNY_sdtm, before scoping out bar and kitchen storage, line, and prep spaces and meeting staff and family. We were even lucky enough to catch Roberto hard at work, perfecting one of his special, made-from-scratch sauces, Jamaican Jerk.
“I don’t take breaks, I don’t. I just keep working,” asserts Roberto. Allecia and Roberto’s efforts were cause for pause and celebration one recent late April afternoon, after announcing their opening date. Seeking to offer gratitude for their first grand opening as business owners, the Gallos called upon their friends and fellow Sault Tribe members, Colleen Medicine and Jesse Utter, to perform a ceremony in honor of the restaurant space and the surrounding land and lake, an offering ushering in the next exciting chapter in their lives anew. Roberto’s family, traveling from as far away as Arizona and Las Vegas, alongside Allecia’s local family, were all in attendance together for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.
A New Beginning
“It feels new, right? The ceremony is an old one, but as modern Anishinabek, our cultural ways have become unfamiliar to us,” Medicine remarks. Despite the separation many of us may feel from our traditional ways, staying accessible to our teachings can reignite long-forgotten connections smoldering within. After offering traditional medicines sage and sweetgrass to cleanse and purify the space, in a moment of solace and sentiment, those in attendance took turns offering Allecia and Roberto their prayers and wishes for success and prosperity. A mix of cultures. Anishinabek. Mexican. Yet, the sentiments and appreciation the Gallos garnered truly transcended any one language or lens. “This is, well besides my babies being born, this is one of the best days of my life,” responded Allecia. In the final moments of the ceremony, we gathered at water’s edge for one final offering, returning water to water, restoring the connection back for our people.
Something special is happening at Jose’s Cantina. Allecia’s sister offered this quick anecdote; “Before? They wouldn’t let you have a seat at the table. Now? You bought the whole damn table!” Without skipping a beat, “and we’re going to feed everyone,” responded Allecia. After the ceremony we stuck around to grab a few more photos, and found it difficult to end the beautiful occasion. “Now you have new friends,” offered Roberto. Something about his grit and determination, a matter-of-factness that is unarguable makes it impossible to doubt him. When the dust settles and the season is in full-swing, we can’t wait to return to Jose’s to get the full story of Allecia and Roberto’s incredible path to business ownership. Roberto promises us he has one heck of a story to tell. And the quesabirrias, we can’t wait to try the quesabirrias in the very near future.
Sault Tribe Thrive would like to thank Allecia and Roberto Gallo, as well as Colleen Medicine and Jesse Utter, for connecting with us at Sault Tribe Thrive and for inviting us to take part in this special event. We are proud to tell another great Sault Tribe member-owned business story. Stop by Jose’s Cantina and congratulate Allecia and Roberto today!
To connect with Sault Tribe Thrive, reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, for all of the latest Sault Tribe Business news check us out on the web at www.saulttribethrive.com/news-and-insights/.
-Sault Tribe Thrive