Hugo Angel and Christine Edwards, a husband-and-wife team of restaurateurs, held a soft opening for Sabores, a Cuban-inspired eatery now in a former bank at 202 E. Main St.
“We didn’t expect it to be such a roller coaster, but we went through it,” Angel said Friday morning, as the sound of chopping sliced through from the kitchen a few hours before the lunch rush. “It’s been a story to tell. If these walls could speak …”
Angel and Edwards did much of the restaurant’s interior buildout themselves, from choosing and painting the walls a tranquil cerulean, to installing health code-mandated self-closing mechanisms on the restroom doors to tiling the massive bar that dominates the dining room’s interior wall.
The couple admitted it was a massive undertaking, but agreed they are glad they stuck with it.
“It’s been an adventure, that’s for sure, but it was worth it,” Edwards said. “We’re just so happy to be here.”
The two brought the menu from The Dining Room, a Cuban restaurant they owned in downtown Jonesborough, but changed the name. “Sabores” means flavor in Spanish.
The new location will give the restaurant more room inside and allow for a large outdoor dining patio, something the Johnson City Commission first had to approve.
Interest has been high in Sabores, and Angel said he didn’t want to overwhelm the new staff — who first reported to work four days ago — so the soft opening used a limited menu. Its popular Tropi Chop, rice and black beans with a choice of meat, will be the main entree item.
Once the staff learns the menu and is comfortable with its offerings and the pace of orders, Angel said the menu will expand.
Aside from the welcoming Johnson City community, Angel credited the opening Friday to members of the couple’s family.
“My family helped us in so many different ways and in any which way you could possibly think of to make this happen, especially when we were behind schedule,” he said. “Without them we wouldn’t be here.”