Mexicali Blues: Wanderlust, Fraternal Brothers, & a Dog Named Doobie

Jan 23, 2023

(Eric and Pete at the original Portland location with their first sign hand painted by Eric’s mom Lou)


“We were originally going to call it… The Cancun Connection”


Eric Lipkin and Pete Erskine were fresh out of college, bright-eyed and bushy-bearded, and looking for the next adventure. “Eric was working in the restaurant business and I was selling real estate and delivering sandwiches in my 1973 Triumph convertible with my dog Doobie.” Eric had an idea, let's travel to Mexico, see what we can find, then sell it here in Portland, Maine. He was originally planning on opening the business with his brother, but when his brother dropped out at the last minute, he reached out to Pete, his fraternity brother from Gettysburg college. 


Mexicali Blues: More Than a Name


“I called MY brother Jeff and told him Eric and I were opening up a Mexican import business, and that we were going to call it… the Cancun Connection,” said Pete followed by a lengthy pause and an all-knowing nod of dissatisfaction. “Jeff knew he could come up with something better and announced it over lunch at his fraternity. The resounding vote was for “Mexicali Blues,” and the rest is history… The song may have some questionable lyrics, but it wasn’t as questionable as the “Cancun Connection”… we would never have imagined but now it has become more than a song, more than a name, now it describes a culture that we have created.”


10 Exchange Street Portland Maine


They registered the Mexicali Blues LLC, sought out business development advice from the University of Southern Maine, and decided to dive in. “We took the leap of faith and rented a teeny space in Portland.” On January 1st 1988, Pete and Eric signed a lease on a retail space in the very back of the 10 Exchange Street Mall, “next to Bad Habits, Seaport Tobacco, and Movies on 10 Exchange Street.” According to Pete it was the “size of a large dormroom… but we needed a place to put our stuff.” 


Los Proximos Pasos: The Next Steps


Where exactly that stuff would come from, what that stuff would be, and how they would get that stuff back to Maine remained to be seen. With their sights set south of the border, Pete, Eric, and their friend Dave (“the Three Amigos”) would make their first trip to Mexico and forever reshape the future of Mexicali Blues… 


35 years in the making…
for now... ✌️,❤️, and Mexicali

Link to share

Use this link to share this article

Just In

Our newest wares from around the world 🌎