Dalton Espaillat

Three Amigos
2917 #A Central Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28205

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


Tom Hanchett


Peter Taylor

It's tough to sell Dominican food because nobody knows what that is. So I was swimming upstream. You think about Mexican food, you think about Italian, Chinese, it's part of the rotation. But Dominican food is really not there. We're a Latin restaurant. It's an amazing culture mixture that we have in here.

Es difícil vender comida dominicana porque nadie sabe lo que es. Así que estaba contra la corriente. Cuando piensas en comida mexicana, piensas en lo italiano, lo chino, como parte del giro. Pero la comida dominicana no está ahí. Somos un restaurante latino. Es una mezcla increíble de culturas que tenemos aquí.

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