the American dream
Barrera de López and her daughter, Cassandra,
was 19, unemployed and alone when he arrived in Los Angeles from
El Salvador in 1984. Almost 20 years later, he and his wife run
one of the more popular Salvadoran restaurants in East Boston. Now
he is preparing to open another one in Lynn. Lopez has struggled
hard to achieve the American dream, and he says he does it all for
his two daughters, Karen, 13, and Cassandra, 4.
want them to have to do what I do," says López, who
works seven days a week with little vacation time.
El Salvador to Massachusetts
In 1984, López flew to Boston from L.A. and found a cheap
apartment in Cambridge. He moved to East Boston later that year.
He worked a
number of jobs downtown, mostly as a cook or busboy. He met his
wife, Sandra, also Salvadoran, in 1987. They married two years later.
and his wife's brother pooled their resources together to purchase
Topacio in 1995. After four years, López bought out his brother-in-law's
share and now runs the restaurant with Sandra. Now he says he is
ready to expand.
like I can do it," says López. "I'm doing pretty
good now. I figure, you get a couple of dollars in your pocket,
you'll be all right."
to have Salvadoran background
beams with pride when he talks about the test his daughter, Karen,
passed to get into the John D. O'Bryant School in Roxbury. "A
hundred questions!" he says.
growing up in a Salvadoran household "fun" and talks excitedly
about the trips she took to El Salvador when she was 6 and 8. Despite
the opportunities she enjoys now, Karen says she'll never forget
I have an advantage," she says. "My parents had to work
hard to get me where I am now and I appreciate that."
She says she's
thinking of becoming either a lawyer or a pediatrician, no doubt
to her parents' delight.