|Taste of Hayward|
|Written by Ferron Salniker|
|Saturday, 09 June 2012 00:00|
There were mini cupcakes, green enchiladas, French mussels, and crescent shaped Chinese dumplings. There was Hayward-brewed beer, and wine from Oakland, Brentwood and Livermore. There were restaurants with 30-year legacies and revered BBQ recipes, and internationally trained chefs with upscale menus boasting locally sourced ingredients. Last Wednesday over 300 guests came to celebrate Hayward’s restaurants, caterers, and nearby wineries for the second annual Taste of Hayward. Held at the Hayward City Hall Rotunda, the event featured over twenty local businesses, a raffle, and a silent auction, all benefiting the Hayward Public Libraries After School Homework Support Center.
“The goal of tonight is to expose the local community, the city and Alameda County at large to the fine dining experience here in Hayward,” said Sean Brooks, Economic Development Manager for the City of Hayward. “For a community to thrive and to move forward, we have to highlight the positive experiences— the economy is all over the place, but the community is right here rallying around food.” Brooks said that what differentiates Hayward’s dining scene from neighboring cities is the localized and community feel generated by family-owned restaurants, many of which are being operated by second and third generations.
Tacos Uruapan is one of those businesses. When Antonio Solorio’s father came to the United States and started a taco stand, he wasn’t looking for a business opportunity. “It was a necessity to survive, to salir adelante.” Twenty-eight years later, the business has transformed from a taco truck on Huntwood and Industrial, to a full-fledged restaurant employing fifteen local residents, and Solorio running the business. The restaurant has a rewards program for elementary school students who reach academic milestones, and a $1 taco night on Tuesdays— a few of the ways Solorio says he interacts and supports his community. “I employ people in the community, I live in the community, I have my business in the community, I interact with the community, and it’s all very important to me,” he said.
City Council Member Mark Salinas believes that stories like Solorio’s— stories of Latino immigrant families starting small businesses and thriving - represent a vital contribution to the entrepreneurial character of Hayward. “Look at the pattern of small businesses, especially in restaurants that are opening in the city of Hayward,” he said. “They’re all taquerias or pupuserias, or Mexican restaurants. I think the growing pattern of Latino owned restaurants is representative of the entrepreneurial spirit that immigrants bring to the U.S.”
Despite the fact that 40% of Hayward’s population is Latino or Hispanic, Latino residents may not be as influential as customers of local restaurants. “Many Latino families are immigrant families and low-income, so for a lot of our families, parents spend their resources cooking dinner at home, “said Salinas. His statement was echoed by the head chef of Skywest Restaurant, Sandro Sanchez, a native of Ecuador, who came to Hayward after moving on from a 17-year culinary career in Spain. He said that the restaurant’s daily clientele is not particularly Latino, except for catered parties, when Latino families rent out their banquet facilities for quinceñeras and baptisms.
Salinas, however, believes that the growing population of young urban professionals (especially Latinos) is the group that most supports local restaurants, citing himself and his wife as examples of working professionals with college degrees, well-paying jobs and little time to cook at home.
Debra Fernandez, a local resident born and raised in Hayward, said she and her friends came to the event with the intention of supporting local businesses. “I’m here to do something in Hayward, to support Hayward. We spend a lot of time going to other cities, so I’m glad I can do something like this here,” she said. Fernandez said she’s enjoyed the “upscaling” of local restaurants and the growing range of cuisines and flavors that have increased over the past few years. When asked if she discovered any new restaurants at the event, she flashed a shy smile and said, “actually I already knew them all.”
|Last Updated ( Thursday, 14 June 2012 09:54 )|