GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Standing inside his restaurant on a early Friday evening, Yordanys “Jay” Bastardo is asked by his friend whether he will have a “trial run” before opening his restaurant.
He exhales deeply.
“I’m going to go for it,” Bastardo says. “Ain’t no trying nothing.”
It’s a mindset Bastardo’s had the moment he took a leap of faith by leaving his home in the Dominican Republic for America.
“I came here with five dollars in my pocket given to me by my aunt,” he recalls. “I had no choice but to make it happen.”
He wanted to achieve his version of the “American Dream.”
“I’ve always thought of the idea of not having to work for somebody else.”
So on a late night two years ago, he pondered a simple question.
“What’s needed in the city of Greenville that I can come up with and make a living out of it?”
He loved cooking his native Dominican cuisine so he took another leap of faith.
“I told my wife i’m opening up a food truck. I saw one on Craigslist. She thought I was crazy,” he says with a smile. “Within two weeks, I quit my job and started what we know now as Villa Verde.”
Villa Verde’s become a late-night staple for East Carolina University students and many others who live in Greenville for its popular Dominican dishes like Big Papi sandwiches and three-pound nacho platters.
“The number one reason why I think we’re being successful being the grace of God,” he says. “The second thing we attribute it to is social media.”
With a popular Facebook account, more than 27,000 followers on Twitter and a loyal customer base, Bastardo took a third leap of faith, opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant at the corner of E. 10th and Heath streets.
“I am truly putting everything on the line for this project.”
He adds, “The story of our lives and my family’s lives could only have happened here in the United States of America. There’s no other country on Earth.”
Bastardo plans to open his restaurant as soon as the Pitt County Health Department gives him approval which could be as soon as the week of July 20th.