Dalton Espaillat was born in New York City. His mother was a nurse but soon returned to her native Dominican Republic where Mr. Espaillat grew up speaking only Spanish. His dad’s job with an international construction firm brought the family to the Charlotte area, where Mr. Espaillat learned English at age fifteen. He went to UNC Charlotte to train as an engineer and today his main work is leading his own RayDal Construction. When the 2008 Recession dried up construction, Mr. Espaillat and two friends bought a failing Mexican restaurant on Central Avenue. He kept talented Mexican cook Alejandra de la Cruz but re-tooled it as Three Amigos, the name purposely Anglicized to let non-Latinos know they’d be welcomed. As it transformed into an east Charlotte destination, he began dreaming of an eatery with the food of his homeland, which led to Sabor. Its menu is half Mexican favorites, half street foods popular elsewhere throughout Latin America: Venezuelan arepas, Argentine empanadas, and Salvadoran and Dominican specialties. In May 2017 his Sabor chain of Latino eateries opened its seventh store in Charlotte’s Southpark area.
Date of interview:
April 26, 2017