National Hispanic American Heritage Month has just started, and as Sioux Falls keeps growing, KELOLAND News is taking a look at the city through the eyes of two local business owners: one whose business is new, and another whose business has been around longer.
The Alpha Barbershop opened in January of this year.
“It’s been pretty good, it’s trial by fire, you know all the stuff going on, and construction as well, so it’s been a quite colorful year,” owner Luis Gutierrez said.
It’s not his family’s only involvement in Sioux Falls business; his father owns the restaurant Puerto Vallarta on East 10th Street. COVID-19 is a challenge for Luis as a business owner right now, but it’s not the only challenge.
“And my, the construction in front of my place now,” Gutierrez said.
He says his customers are diverse.
“I get a lot of Hispanics myself because I’m bilingual … my Spanish has an English accent, but it is what it is,” Gutierrez said. “I was born and raised in the United States.”
Located just a short distance away from Gutierrez’s twirling barber sign on 41st Street is the restaurant Inca. Julio Espino opened it way back in August 1997 and eventually sold it to his sister and brother-in-law in 2010. Espino started his Inca Salsa business a few years after opening the restaurant, and he estimates that it’s now sold in more than 200 stores.
“Really been a great, successful business,” Espino said.
The company is based in Sioux Falls, and the salsa is made in two other South Dakota communities: Pukwana and Tea. Espino says Inca Salsa could expand further.
“It’s got a big potential to grow, ’cause I’m working with other big chains right now, I don’t want to say yet because I don’t have those contracts yet,” Espino said.
We’ve profiled his salsa before; a past story is from November 2014.
“One of the main things about salsa is the quality,” Espino said in 2014. “It’s the quality of the product.”
He’s been visiting family in Mexico, so we caught up with him on Zoom, where he talked about the Sioux Falls Hispanic community’s growth.
“It has grown … in all the ways around, such as like, not only restaurants or food establishment, but nowadays you find insurance companies, you find construction companies, you name it,” Espino said. “It’s, it has grown all the way around in the Hispanic community.”
And he’s felt welcomed.
“I have been, how do I say, embraced, by the community, by the town, by the state,” Espino said.
It’s a similar story at the barbershop.
Dan Santella: Do you think Sioux Falls is a good community for you to have this business?
“Oh yes,” Gutierrez said.
Dan Santella: Why do you say that?
“It’s growing, it’s very, very open, a lot of people are very accepting,” Gutierrez said. “And you’re nice to people, they’re nice to you.”