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For Billings Mexican restaurant, community support helped survive through pandemic

Posted at 7:47 AM, May 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 09:47:18-04

BILLINGS — Evelyn Hammond immigrated to Montana from Mexico City 11 years ago, and for the last nine years has owned La Tinga, an authentic Mexican food restaurant in downtown Billings.

The restaurant specializes in tacos but serves a variety of other Mexican cuisine, such as enchiladas, quesadillas, burritos and tostadas.

On Cinco de Mayo, normal celebrations are still tempered by the pandemic, but La Tinga was a busy place on Wednesday.

The business has been good so far for Hammond, whose roots in the United States began elsewhere.

Her first job after she immigrated was as a housekeeper at a hospital. She recalls it being hard work and a difficult adjustment.

“It’s hard to work for somebody else, with your own ideas. It is better to own your own business with your own ideas because sometimes it’s hard to follow something that’s not right for you,” Hammond said about why she opened her restaurant.

“Owning your own business is bad, well, it’s not bad, it's just tough,” says Hammond. However, she describes her business as successful and says she has much gratitude for the Billings community, who supported the restaurant through the pandemic.

“It is very amazing. You don’t realize how amazing the community is. Well, I didn’t realize how amazing the community was until last year when the pandemic got here and all the community supported La Tinga,” Hammond says.

To show her gratitude, Hammond has pictures of many long-term customers blanketing the walls of her restaurant.