A Chop off the Old Block: Family business thrives in Springwells

ProsperUS Detroit and Global Detroit both work to serve immigrant and minority entrepreneurs. This story is the first of a series that will highlight the local entrepreneurs supported by both organizations and their economic contributions as they propel Detroit’s revitalization.

By Beth Szurpicki

Salvador Enriquez learned the culinary art of butchery at age nine from a butcher in Guadalajara, but he learned how to play with flavors from his grandmother. “The butcher taught me about quality, and my grandmother instilled in me the desire to give the best food possible to the people.” Today, what began as an eight foot counter and a dream is now Carniceria Guadalajara, a thriving family-owned butcher shop in the Springwells neighborhood of Southwest Detroit. This July, Guadalajara was awarded a 2016 Motor City Match grant to use towards expansion, and is a NEIdeas $10k Challenge Finalist.

It’s easy to see what makes Salvador tick – and his business so successful. He explains that it’s not as much the money as it is the passion he has for his craft, which is clear when he talks about his work.  He compares it to that of a true sushi chef who is trained for years to create the perfect sushi rice and the flawless cut of fish. His enthusiasm is infectious as he explains which chile goes with which dish, how to choose the proper chorizo seasoning, and the importance of using just the right technique to slice a flawless cut of sirloin. He says his heart is filled each time he provides a quality product to his customers.

Salvador-01Armed with years of experience as a butcher, he arrived in the U.S., first in Carson City, California, with his young family, confident he would find work easily. He began looking for employment, but was often turned away because of his limited English skills.  His luck changed when a shop owner, also an immigrant, took a chance and hired him. “I’ve been doing what I love ever since,” he shares.

Salvador believes the immigrant experience he shared with the store owner amidst the openness of a country filled with people from all corners of the world, all looking for the same thing, helped him get that first job.  “Immigrants want to make it – just like everyone else,” he says.  Salvador’s is the true American story – a story often sparked by that one opportunity that can change everything.

When Salvador moved to Detroit in 1999, he thought he was on the verge of retirement. He was excited to explore the big city he saw in books as a kid, but the Detroit he found was not the vibrant city he expected, and he felt motivated to be a part of the city’s resurgence.  He also noticed a missing market – an opportunity, and one he knew well – not a single butcher shop throughout Southwest Detroit. Three months later, he opened his first location in the Springwells neighborhood, which not only filled a need in the community, but has added to the vibrancy of this busy and thriving neighborhood.

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Salvador has trained his daughter Adriana to take over the business. After 14 years working together, he trusts the business will be in good hands.  “My daughter can cut meat like any butcher, and she is fast,” he proudly says. Adriana is a ProsperUS Detroit graduate, and uses the business training she acquired to strengthen Guadalajara.

She never expected to become a butcher like her dad, but his passion had an impact on her. “My dad is an expert in every type of meat. That’s one of the things we’ve always liked to give our customers – good quality meat, and the customers come back. He has taught me a lot.”

Will Salvador be retiring soon? We hope not, but when he does, we know Guadalajara is in good hands for generations to come.

 

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