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Phoenix restaurant owner battling incurable disease

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    Phoenix, AZ (KPHO KTVK) — There is no doubt Silvana Salcido Esparza, the owner of Barrio Cafe, has left her imprint on Central Phoenix. She is described by many as a woman who pours her heart into her food and the people she serves.

“She doesn’t judge people; she does a lot for the homeless community. When the pandemic first started, she closed her restaurants down and fed the homeless,” said one woman outside her restaurant.

While visiting in Arizona on Thursday, Democratic candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris met with Esparza. During his speech, the former Vice President mentioned that Esparza was battling a terminal disease.

“I could tell you that I lost a 100 pounds in the last 10 years,” said Esparza. “It wasn’t a diet; I love to eat.”

Esparza has sarcoidosis, an incurable inflammatory disease. She said it has impacted her eyes, skin, heart, liver and kidneys. Esparza said she was in remission, until the pandemic hit. “Because of the stress of closing down a restaurant, pandemic and all of that, eventually now it is back,” said Esparza.

Esparza is now without health insurance. She said she gave it up to save money and help keep Barrio Cafe in business. The chef already closed down her other restaurant due to COVID-19. Still, Esparza isn’t letting her illness set her back. Instead, she said it empowers her.

“It is my battle and I look pretty good. I am hiking 10 miles all the time. I go up to South Mountain. That is my refuge. That is where my brain and spirit regenerates,” said Esparza.

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