This story is from a few years ago, but it’s one of my favorite stories from my time abroad so I though I would share.
When I studied abroad in London, I knew that I would be turning 21 while I was there. Not a huge milestone in the UK, since the drinking age is 18, but to me, it was a huge deal. I knew that I wanted a party that would rival something I’d have in the States, but I just didn’t know how.
Now, Mexican food is my all-time favorite food ever, and there seems to be a huge shortage of somewhat authentic Mexican food in London (or at least I wasn’t going to the right areas). After months and months of searching, my friends and I stumbled upon a place in Leicester Square called Loco Latino. I took one glance at the menu outside and saw they had tacos, enchiladas, guacamole, and most importantly, an extensive tequila bar. Done and Done.
My friends and I sat inside, and found out from the waitress they had only been open for a week. She took our orders and as she was walking away she overheard me telling my friends that I should have my birthday party at the restaurant. A few minutes later, the manager of the restaurant came up to us and told us that since they just opened and really needed the business, they could cater and set up my party for me. For £10 a person, we could have a buffet of Mexican food, two bottles of tequila and a pretty awesome discount on all the other drinks we ordered. I thought it was too good to be true…but it wasn’t. Each person invited would just pay their £10 and have a Mexican food feast. It was the greatest idea ever. I reserved a spot in the restaurant for around 25 people (everyone in the study center), and anxiously waited a week until my birthday.
So, on December 3, my friends and I all headed down to Loco Latino. I wasn’t really expecting much, they were already providing the food and alcohol. But when I stepped inside the restaurant, they had completely transformed the entire place. “HAPPY 21ST BIRTHDAY” banners were hung from the ceiling, balloons were everywhere and confetti was on the floor. Not only that, they had shut down the restaurant for 2 hours while we were there, so we could all eat and be as loud as we wanted without disturbing everyone else. The tables had happy birthday table cloths on them, there were confetti poppers on the table and they also had provided the cutest disposable cameras on the tables for all of us to take pictures. It really was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen.
Oh, but it didn’t stop there. The waiters broke out the tequila, and we all had shots. Multiple shots. Margaritas were being passed around and we pretty soon we were all buzzed. Then, out of nowhere, they start bringing out appetizers. And not just chips and salsa. I’m talking about calamari, taquitos, mini tacos, guacamole, mozzarella sticks, chicken wings. And it just kept coming! Just when I seriously thought there couldn’t be ANY more food, and then the waiters started bringing out the entrees! Enchiladas, fajitas with all the fixings, grilled chicken and rice, burritos, it was the most magical and awesome thing that’s ever happened in my life. But the whole time I kept thinking that there’s NO way they were still only going to charge us £10 a person. Not for the decorations and the massive amounts of food and the tequila that just seemed to appear out of nowhere.
By the end of the 2 hours, we were all full, drunk and happy. No one had even attempted to come into the restaurant, so the manager started to play some music, and we all just danced, took shots, and danced some more. While everyone was dancing, the manager pulled me aside and let me know that nothing was an extra charge, and they were actually making more money from the party since business had been so slow. He told me one of the waitresses had the idea to decorate and everything had been really inexpensive. He kept thanking me for having my party there and for helping his business out, but the whole time I kept drunkenly telling him that I could never repay him for this, that he had made my 21st birthday the most incredible night of my life. I seriously couldn’t have imagined myself having a better time.
All of my friends added tips, so the owners probably made a killing off of us. I felt really good because not only did I have the most awesome 21st birthday party ever, I helped out a local business. I will never forget the generosity, kindness and hospitality of the staff at Loco Latino; it really was one the greatest nights of my life! Maybe I’ll have another birthday party there again someday 🙂