Reno Sparks’ LatinX community is beautifully vibrant and diverse, comprised of residents representing many Mexican states, Guatemala, El Salvador, Argentina and many other Spanish speaking nations.
Over the past 10 years, Latinx people have launched more small businesses than any other demographic in the US. While these same entrepreneurs, and their communities, have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, many of these storefronts are incredible stories of success, and in celebration of LatinX Heritage Month we’re proud to share four of our community’s with you.
Antojito is a Spanish word meaning “little craving”, or more commonly, snacks. You’ll find small shops and street stalls throughout Latin countries specializing in these dishes, but beyond the food they serve, these businesses serve as gathering places for the local community.
Elena Munoz, owner of Antojitos Colibri, grew up serving raspados (Mexican style shave ice) from her family’s roadside stand in Mexico. Her raspados were special because they used whole fruit to make their flavored syrups, and when she came to the US, she couldn’t find anything similar and began dreaming of the day she’d open her very own restaurant.
With the help of her husband, Benjamin, and their children, Edgar and Mauricio, Elena spent the next 20 years building a successful cleaning business. When she saw this location for sale, she jumped, and Antojitos Colibri was born, and the community has embraced them with open arms. Antojitos Colibri serves up all the classics, like gaspacho, elotes, chamangos, and of course, Elena’s famous raspados, along with some new school mashups like the Limonazza, Fresada, and tostilocos dreamed up by Mauricio and Edgar. Experience an authentic taste of Mexican culture right in the heart of Reno at Antojitos Colibri.
Fausto Salazar never dreamed of leaving Guatemala. He was revered for his skill as a baker, and built a successful business supplying Guatemalan prisons with his fresh bread daily. He did what he loved, provided a wonderful life for his family, and he loved his country.
Fausto is a fair, kind hearted and generous man who always looks out for others. He didn’t agree with the direction his beloved country was headed and stood up and spoke out against the government. This vocal discontent and his success made his family a target, and sadly, two of his sons were kidnapped and murdered.
The United Nations and the United States came to his aid, granting him political asylum and he came to Reno to live with his brother, leaving his beloved country and baking behind.
It was his daughter, Glenda, who encouraged him to start again, first from Guatemala, and eventually by his side in Reno. Fausto doesn’t have recipes, he bakes from the heart, and Glenda said his first batch of bread was awful. She took it to work to sell, and when she came home she told Fausto everyone loved it and handed him her tips for the day. Fausto was encouraged, and he kept trying, getting better with each batch, until he remembered it all.
He named his bakery Mi Linda Guatemala, which means “My Beautiful Guatemala”, a testament to the love he has for his home country. Mi Linda is more than a bakery though. Fausto has created a place that encompasses all he misses about his life in Guatemala, and you can count on finding him looking out proudly from behind the counter, welcoming you as a friend with his big bright smile.
El Paisano Pupuseria y Taqueria
The Infante family is a shining example of the American dream in action, and the power of a “can do” attitude. Originally from Mexico, the family moved to Aberdeen Washington, where they opened a small restaurant, pouring all they had into it. The restaurant wasn’t as successful as they’d hoped, and the family wasn’t sure what would happen next. As a family closely tied to their faith, they prayed for the answer, and decided to head south to Reno.
They took ownership of a bar and restaurant under the E 4th Street overpass, where the less than desirable location meant they attracted a mostly unsavory clientele. They wanted out as soon as they got in, but they wouldn’t give up. It was here they learned how to make pupusas from a Salvadoran woman they employed, and those pupusas are heralded as some of the best in our area. Today they operate three successful locations and a successful catering business, while enjoying a reputation for serving delicious menu filled with dishes from Mexico and El Salvador with a friendly smile, and touch of that love you can only get when eating with family.