Salud's Eddie Larios Talks Family, Time & Other Lessons In Five Years In Ditmas Park

eddie larios at salud via saludnyc

Since opening five years ago, Salud (1308 Avenue H between Argyle and Rugby Roads) has helped keep neighbors healthy with thoughtful, organic food and happy with family-oriented service–and even expanded to a SoHo location last October.

On top of his hectic day-to-day duties, multi-talented Salud owner Eddie Larios (who has been a Creative Director for Elle and InStyle and whipped up the winning Cortelyou logo for the FDC that you’ll be seeing around soon, by the way), was gracious enough to talk very poetically to us about Salud’s past half decade in Ditmas Park.

How are things today at your Brooklyn location as compared to when you first opened? What about as compared to SoHo?

The best way to describe it, is the feeling of being home. At the Ditmas Park/Midwood cusp location, we have grown and evolved as a family brand. We always had faith that we were starting something really special with the creation of Salud, and seeing the shop this many years later feels very fulfilling.

I’m so proud that we started off in Ditmas Park. I was looking at many neighborhoods but we knew that staying in our own neighborhood was the best option to take. We believe in our neighbors, and I’m hoping that our neighbors and loyal customers believe in us.

As compared to our new SoHo spot–well, there’s such a difference. We now have great experience and knowledge that we picked up in Brooklyn and are able to translate that into a very homey and very personable experience with our new Manhattan customers.

salud soho via saludnyc

Salud SoHo opens, via saludnyc 

Who are some of the employees or regulars who have helped make Salud a success?

That’s easy. We’re a family run shop, so there are a few key members of my family who have made and continue to make Salud a growing success. The first is without a doubt is my sister, Betty Larios. Without her embracing and bringing to fruition my crazy ideas of organic culinary concoctions, there wouldn’t be a Salud as it is today.

Then we have the three pillars that keep Salud well oiled, or should I say “olive oiled.” That would be my brilliant niece and nephew, sister and brother team Karen and Argenis Gonzaga. Karen is our almighty manager and Argenis is our organic chef in charge of making everything super delicious but healthy at both shops.

Last but definitely not least is our dynamo and all around good body, Lesley Hernandez–she has been the motor behind our great electric vehicle.

I am blessed to have such a loyal and devoted team. To work with the family you love and to create something that we’re so proud of is truly astonishing. There isn’t a day to goes by that I don’t reflect on how, together, we can make Salud that much better. It’s our goal and one that is absolutely reachable.

What are some lessons you’ve learned in this particular restaurant?

There are many lessons that one learns when opening a new category of cafe–one which beats with the heart and soul of its creator.

At Salud we’ve learned that the customer is always right. Although we may have had some interactions that were, shall we say, interesting, we knew that having a more personal way of driving a business would be key. So my philosophy is that everyone that walks through the doors is now a family member. As we say in Latin America, “Mi casa es su casa.” My home is your home. And Salud is like a second home to us.

Another great lesson is the managing of time. Ah, time, why do you pass on by so fast? We knew that certain sacrifices had to be made to make the two shops run without a hitch. This, of course, is a challenge; there is a huge demand in time from everyone’s plate.

As all small business owners know, your business is a living and breathing entity, so you’re “on-call” 24/7. We really enjoy the time we share at the shops with our customers and friends, but we’re also learning on how to set some time aside to share with our most loved ones.

Sometimes it may not work out as planned but deep inside we know that in time, all will fall into place, like a lovely butterfly coming out of its cocoon. The butterfly is a beautiful symbol to me. It’s something that inspires me.

salud via saludnyc

Behind the scenes, via saludnyc

What’s one of your favorite memories?

We have tons of great memories at the shop. One which stands out the most from the past year is being tested as one of the locations for one of Liam Neeson’s movies (currently in production in Brooklyn). Although they didn’t end up choosing us, it was great to feel the love from Hollywood.

What can we expect in the coming year?

The sky’s the limit in 2014! Salud has been growing not only in retail locations but in concepts. Did I mention Salud also has a pop-up shop at the new Brooklyn Flea/Smorgasburg Winter Market in Williamsburg? You can find us there every weekend serving up some of our fan favorite organic handmade Aztec Hot Xocolate.

I’m also looking to open up a new juice concept. I’m calling it The Salud Juice Garden. I want to create an outdoor location where family and friends can come enjoy great food, drinks, and possibly live music.

Lastly, I have been approached by The Agency Group Publishing to work on a unique style of cookbook–a Salud book which shares not only healthy recipes, but also great family stories and the history of us arriving and growing in SoHo in the 1950s. Great tales to tell!

I can’t share much more on that since it’s pretty hush, hush, but that’s just a glimpes on all that’s currently in the works at Salud.

I would like to extend a huge thank you to all our loyal customers. Thank you for sharing in this experience with us.

Want to keep up with the forthcoming developments at Salud? You can follow Eddie and co on Facebook or Instagram, or stop by their Ditmas Park location (1308 Avenue H between Argyle and Rugby Roads) from 8am-7pm Monday through Friday, as well as 10am-7pm on Saturdays.

Top photo via saludnyc


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