Sabor, the word for flavor in Spanish, is what Dalton Espaillat set out to bring to Charlotte when he opened the first Sabor restaurant back in 2013. More specifically, the flavors you find on the streets of Latin America, and to do so in the most authentic way possible.
“10 years ago, Charlotte really didn't have a big food scene and I can say that because I lived here, I'm not a newcomer,” said Espaillat chuckles. “Let me bring some of these [Latin] dishes that are very popular and introduce them to the Charlotte culture.”
Street food is an integral part of Latino gastronomy and for many in Latin America it is a daily part of their lives. The comfort of visiting your favorite empanada stand or chatting about life with a stranger over some arepas is what Espaillat set to replicate in the Queen City.
It's safe to say he’s done that and more with Sabor expanding to 20 different locations around the Carolinas and not slowing down anytime soon. However, with such expansion, the main concern becomes how to make every location as authentic as the first. For Espaillat, it’s all about promoting from within and rewarding the people who know the business inside and out.
"The way that we have stayed true to our roots is that first we train our employees, we empower them, they have an opportunity to keep growing with us. So, no matter how much we grow, this growth is still being run as a mom and pop at the restaurant level with the quality and authenticity of the food that we're making and the freshness of it. In our commitment to FAB, which is fresh, authentic, and bold.”
Charlotte FC’s partnership with Sabor is fitting because they parallel each other in the way they’ve injected Latino culture into the Charlotte community on a grander scale. Sabor has done it through food while Charlotte FC supporters have done so through their traditions in soccer fandom.
Espaillat has seen firsthand how the community has reciprocated and embraced the Latino culture through both mediums.
“It was amazing seeing Charlotte FC being accepted and so tied into the community. Charlotte FC welcoming us, Latino people into the stadium and being accepted for who we are, our culture and we’ve reciprocated with our food, welcoming the American population.
“It was an honor for us to be considered to be a part of Bank of America Stadium, it was an honor for our brand to be the one representing the Latino cuisine.”
With every bite of Sabor, you’re guaranteed to taste flavors that are infused with generations of traditional recipes that stretch across Latin America. Staying true to their grassroots has allowed Sabor to flourish alongside the vibrant Charlotte FC fandom.