Bill Castro is the driving force behind one of the liveliest independent restaurants in the Dayton area.
El Meson got its start in 1978, when Bill’s parents, Herman and Gloria Castro, bought a small pizza parlor in West Carrollton. Over the years, the Castro family started introducing dishes from their native South America on weekends, and slowly, the pizza joint morphed into a full-service restaurant with a far-reaching menu ranging from Spanish-style tapas to multiple specialties from Central and South America.
RELATED: Restaurant serves delicious Spanish food for adventurous grown-ups (March 2017)
And don’t even get us STARTED on El Meson’s excellent margaritas (second only to Elsa’s in the 2016 Dayton.com “Best of Dayton” online survey) or its sangrias, which might just be among the best served ANYwhere.
This week, Castro and the restaurant are gearing up for a Cinco De Mayo celebration that includes live music, street food, drink specials, dancing and outdoor fun (with the help of tents and heaters as needed).
RELATED: El Meson launches its very own food truck (July 2013)
Castro serves as managing partner for the restaurant, when he’s not showing horses, another passion that goes back to his childhood in Colombia. We caught up with this week’s Daytonian of the Week to toss some questions his way:
Q: What’s your favorite spot in the Dayton area?
A: Our home!
Q: What do you love about life in the Dayton area?
A: It is small enough to get around and yet unique in the gem of restaurants we have!
Q: Why did you decide to settle in the Dayton area?
A: My father was transferred here to work at the former NCR World Headquarters. He and my mother went on to become the founders of El Meson.
Q: How did you get involved with your line of work?
A: I thought I was going to work for only six months in the failing pizza business my parents had purchased, and here I am, still here 38 years and 6 months later.
Q: What is your guilty pleasure?
Q: What superpower would you love to have?
Q: If you could change or bring one thing to Dayton, would it be?
A: We would NOT have so many chain and cookie-cutter establishments. Support local entrepreneurs!
Q: What do you think Dayton will look like in 10-15 years?
A: I think more green space will be going away, and we’ll have more pop-up malls!