Tony Tavarez, 42, is also part of the new food wave. He came with his Dominican family to Jamaica Plain in 1985 and still lives near Hyde Square with his wife and children. After a successful six-year run as sales manager of Telemundo, the television network owned by NBC that broadcasts in Spanish, he decided to try something else.
He opened a tiny sandwich shop in Roslindale in 2008 called Tostada Sandwich Bar, selling his native Dominican food. It did well, and this year he opened another across from the Stop & Shop close to Jackson Square. Unlike some other restaurants in the area, his operation trumpets healthy food.
“People are thinking more about healthy eating,’’ he said. “I have nothing fried. I don’t sell cold cuts.’’ He said all his fruit is fresh, and he uses cheese he buys in New York from the Domincan Republic.
State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez moved to nearby Mission Hill as a youngster with his Puerto Rican family in the ’60s, when the influx of Hispanic people to Jamaica Plain began.
There are plenty of two-stop Hispanics in Jamaica Plain. “Many came from the South End,’’ Sanchez said. After Hispanics first settled there, usually drawn by relatives who were already there looking for a better life, their numbers increased, and they needed more room, cheap rent, and job possibilities.
The Hyde Square/Jackson Square neighborhood fit the bill. The jobs could be anywhere. Many found work in Boston’s hotel industry, while others worked outside of Boston. Garcia’s father traveled to a job in Everett every day for years. Others did agricultural work outside the city, said Sanchez.
The second wave of Hispanics were the Dominicans who started coming in the ’80s and are now by far the biggest Hispanic group in the neighborhood. Many hailed from Bani, a city in the Dominican Republic, notes Sanchez.
Red Sox ace pitcher Pedro Martinez used to get his hair cut during his years in Boston from fellow Dominican Juan Fernandez, who owns the Fernandez Barber Shop in the heart of JP’s Hispanic district. Martinez heard about the place from his cousin, who got his hair cut there.
“He never talked baseball,’’ said Fernandez, 36, a born entrepreneur. In his early 20s, Fernandez scraped together the money to buy the barbershop and, with help from the seller, bought the building in 1997. He now lives with his wife and five kids over the shop.
Gerry Burke, who was born and raised in JP, helps his son run the neighborhood fixture Doyle’s Cafe. Now 70, he recalls that it used to be overwhelmingly Irish, mixed with Germans, Italians, and French Canadians.
“I miss the camaraderie of the people I grew up with,’’ he said, “but things are positively better.’’
He also recalls in the late ’60s when the Washington Street area where his saloon is located was a scary place to venture. “The police wouldn’t come down here.’’ All in all, he said, “These are the good old days.’’
Sam Allis can be reached at email@example.com.
© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company.