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It takes a village, never truer says Little Mexico Cantina owner

By Lorraine Graves

Published 10:27 PDT, Wed July 17, 2019

Last Updated: 2:13 PDT, Wed May 12, 2021

Carol Janeczko is one grateful woman, after the fateful call the morning of March 13, 2018.

Carol Janeczko is one grateful woman, after the fateful call the morning of March 13, 2018.

“I got a phone call saying there was a fire and I came down here as quickly as I could,” says the owner of the Little Mexico Cantina in Steveston.

She’s clear, the health inspector always told them how clean their kitchen was and there wasn’t anything in the kitchen that caused the fire. Instead, it was something combustible in the back.

“There was a lot of smoke and water damage, more so than fire (damage),” she says.

Janeczko has owned the restaurant for the last five of its 30 years. It has become a local fixture.

It turns out Richmond has shown it’s more than just a place to eat. The Little Mexico Cantina and Janeczko are important parts of our community if the actions of local people are any indication.

“There were a lot of people in the community that actually helped me rebuild,” she says.

When asked about what unexpected challenges she had, Janeczko counters with gratitude, “Actually, everybody was actually unbelievable. The city was amazing. The fire marshal was amazing. The community has been amazing.”

She also faced an unexpected personal challenge.

“I was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer in June and I’ve overcome that. I’m super excited to be back in the community.”

So what’s the Little Mexico Cantina like today? 

“The décor is definitely different,” Janeczko says. “The layout is very similar. I never wavered. It was always in the forefront that I would re-open.”

When asked if there were any special people to thank, Janeczko replied, “It’s just the community in its entirety. Everybody’s been rallying around us and supporting us. And, since we’ve opened, we’ve been extremely busy. People have been very kind and very patient and very attentive to the fact that we are open and to the fact that there were some challenges, not only the fire but cancer.”

And, not long after reopening and the all clear on the cancer, came more good news. “We just won the Vancouver Foodster Taco Challenge when we opened. So it’s “Best Taco’s (in the) Lower Mainland.”

They have won every year they entered. “We didn’t enter last year because of the fire and we also won best ceviche two years ago,” she says.

Featuring authentic regional Mexican cuisine, that takes time to prepare from scratch, the Little Mexico Cantina’s future looks good as Janeczko celebrates her fifth anniversary of ownership. “It’s amazing to be back.”

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