Wyoming restaurant brings Christmas spirit with tamales

Kent County

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — While many restaurants are struggling to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic, Tamales Mary is rolling in the dough, or the “masa” as they say inside the restaurant.

The Wyoming restaurant held its annual Christmas special. More than 50 people braved the cold to get their hands on a bag of tamales.

“This place fills up very quick,” said Ryan De Ruyter. “If you don’t get here before 11, you’re going to be waiting for a while.” 

Owner Mary Martinez and her staff began preparations for Wednesday’s event on Sunday. Staffers worked around the clock to get 5,000 tamales ready.

Tamales Mary in Wyoming. (Dec. 23, 2020)

“Seven people in the morning, seven at night,” Martinez said. “It’s a very long process.”

Martinez learned how to make tamales in Mexico, where she helped her mother sell food in the state of Veracruz.

“For Mexican people, it’s a tradition to make tamales on Christmas or special occasions,” said Martinez.

She started her culinary career in the U.S. as a cook at a Mexican restaurant. Martinez then ran a taco shop with her husband on Grand Rapids’ West Side, where she also sold tamales.

“I said we probably need a tamales store over here because people love tamales and they love the way I made them, ” Martinez said.

Now in its fourth year, it’s pretty clear the restaurant is a big hit with locals.

“One, tamales are amazing and the best,” Clare Otsuji said. “Tamales Mary, even better.”

She appreciates the support from her customers.

“People believe in us, this all love, we make all the tamales with heart and love,” Martinez said.

The restaurant has done so well that Martinez will open a new location next March in Eastown.

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