NORTH PARK — After years of working in other people’s restaurants, three sisters decided to open their own specializing in sandwiches with Latin flavors.
Yeni, Maricela and Yanet Esquivel opened Sissy’s Sandwich, 3224 W. Foster Ave., in December. It’s across from North Park University.
Sissy’s menu includes tacos, tamales and aborrojados, a deep-fried sweet plantain filled with mozzarella cheese and guava. There are also sandwiches with a Latin twist, including the al pastor — which is served with grilled onions, pineapple and Swiss cheese — alongside more American-style fare like tuna and chicken sandwiches.
Sissy’s also serves breakfast bagels, smoothies, café con leche and cappuccinos, as well as desserts, including concha pastries filled with strawberries, bananas and Nutella or a homemade cream filling.
Yeni and Yanet Esquivel work the grill while Maricela Esquivel seats and serves customers.
“I always dreamed of having our own business,” Yeni Esquivel said in Spanish.
The sisters don’t have employees; when the restaurant gets especially busy, they’ll ask their kids or husbands to chip in, Yeni Esquivel said.
The restaurant’s name came about after a conversation the sisters had with their kids, Maricela Esquivel said.
“I also have three daughters, and all the time I hear them calling to each other the nickname ‘Sissy,’” Maricela Esquivel said in Spanish.
The owners did play around with more Mexican-sounding names, but Maricela Esquivel’s daughter suggested “Sissy” instead because three sisters own the business and it sounded cooler, Maricela Esquivel said.
The owners agreed, and Yeni Esquivel’s husband got to work renovating the store that formerly housed Ghynaro’s Grill, giving it a more modern black and white design for Sissy’s, Yeni Esquivel said.
The sisters have years of working in Mexican, Colombian, Cuban and seafood restaurants. When they were thinking up their menu, their family initially recommended focusing on traditional Mexican cuisine because that’s their heritage, Yeni Esquivel said.
But because there are other sit-down Mexican restaurants nearby and the university campus means a lot of customers are rushing to and from class, the sisters decided to feature a mix of quick bites with American and Latin American flavors, Yeni Esquivel said.
Since opening, they’ve been growing their set of regulars. The sisters were overjoyed when their kids started showing them online reviews from fans praising their food, they said.
“Our neighbors and the university have been really great and welcoming,” Yeni Esquivel said.
If business continues to grow, the sisters hope to open additional locations in the city, Yeni Esquivel said.
“We’ve worked so hard for other people, for other restaurant owners. But at the end of the day, it benefited them and not us,” Maricela Esquivel said. “It’s so much more satisfying to work for ourselves.”
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