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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to annemarie@southernfoodways.org.

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Dalton Espaillat

Three Amigos

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 family relocated to Charlotte when his father’s job at an international construction firm in Charlotte. Espaillat learned English at age fifteen. He went to UNC Charlotte for a degree in engineering. Espaillat leads 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:

Tom Hanchett

Peter Taylor

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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