Sabores del Sur continues to introduce Bealeton to South American flavors


Sabores del Sur opened in Bealeton in what was previously the Verizon store. Photo by Christian Jordan.

Christian Jordan, News Editor

 Sabores del Sur is the latest addition to Bealeton Village Center and opened about seven months ago in place of the former Verizon store. The new establishment is a bakery specializing in South American delicacies. The name Sabores del Sur is Spanish for, “Flavors of the South,” in reference to the bakery’s South American roots.

     The bakery was opened by Erica Pérez, who also owns La Sofia Beauty Salon  and co-operates Taqueria Jasmine, all in the same shopping center. Pérez chose to open the bakery here in Bealeton since she already managed some businesses in the area and wanted to move out to the country.

     Pérez, who hails from Cali, Colombia, decided to open the bakery due to the fact that she and her brother are from South America and realized that there was nowhere in the area, from Culpeper to Manassas, that offered such a wide range of South American bakery items.

     Pérez cites the reason for the naming of the bakery as taking inspiration from the cultures and different flavors of which it bears.

     “I named it that because I wanted people who may not be familiar with South American cuisine to try the different flavors. We have items on the menu from Peru, Colombia, Argentina, different bread from different parts of South America,” said Pérez.

      The bakery sells items from all over the continent such as empanadas, buñuelos, bandeja paisa, and papas rellenas from Colombia, chicken from Peru, parrillada from Argentina served with chimichurri and/or rice, as well as arepas which are popular in both Colombia and Venezuela. Of the items on the menu, the most popular has by far been the Peruvian chicken.

     “While there might not be a large Peruvian population in the area, Peruvian chicken is well known and everybody likes it,” said Pérez.

     Although it is the most popular item on the menu, it is also very lengthy to  make it.

     “The process to make the chicken takes between 12-14 hours before it even goes in the oven and it is all done on charcoal, so there is no gas involved,” said Pérez.

     Not only is Pérez a very successful businesswoman, but she also has an abundance of prior experience in the industry and with management as well.

“I have been in the restaurant business for 17 years. I have worked with several hotels, such as The Williard in Washington, D.C. After working full-time at Taqueria Jasmine for a year and a half, I ended up learning all of the recipes in just two weeks. This provided me with experience in the bakery because it is a skill that enables me to train people quickly,” said Pérez.

          Pérez admitted that while she has enjoyed her previous jobs, she wanted a change and was looking for something more self-reliant.

     “I decided that I want to work for nobody and become my own boss,” said Pérez.

     As rewarding as this new business venture has been for Pérez, it has also come with its own set of challenges in regard to starting a small business from scratch, as she has rarely had to do so in her previous experience.

     “Usually when you buy a restaurant, the restaurant is already there. When you get a place like this, you have to build it from the ground up. I questioned whether or not I could build a place from the start,” said Pérez.

     Ms. Pérez used many different outlets when promoting the opening of Sabores del Sur including social media and radio advertising.

     “I am very active on Facebook and I have a lot of groups. Instagram is another social media platform I used to promote the business. My daughter did a little bit of radio promotion as well,” said Pérez.

     On Facebook, Pérez often goes live and records herself when she is cooking the famous Peruvian chicken. During the initial opening months of the bakery, there were many signs and balloons placed around the business and the Village Center as a whole.

     Preparing the building for opening day demanded a lot of effort from Pérez’s team and required her to work extra hours, but with the help of her family, it was not as difficult.

     “I liked being with my family during the construction and painting process and just getting the place set up. I liked that we did it ourselves instead of having to rely on someone else,” said Pérez.

     Initially, Pérez feared that the opening of Sabores del Sur would take away clientele from neighboring Taqueria Jasmine, which took a hard blow from the pandemic, but that has not been the case as the customer demographics for the two businesses have turned out to be completely different.

It is not every day that new and original ideas come to Bealeton, let alone one-of-a-kind establishments that are scarcely found elsewhere in the area with such variety in menu options. Sabores del Sur offers just that and is a new small business close to home that should not be overlooked.

Erica Perez opened Sabores del Sur after 17 years in the restaurant industry. Photo by Christian Jordan.