Honor and obligation
Restaurant entrepreneur Carlos Branger ’97 follows his parents’ example to improve his communityBy Peter Jurmu
Carlos Branger ’97 took a lesson from his parents in Venezuela to his adopted community of Dallas, Texas.
Helping the community isn’t a burden. It’s “both an honor and an obligation,” Branger said.
The Dallas Cowboys and the Alexandria, Va.-based Hispanic Heritage Foundation agree, honoring the restaurateur and philanthropist in September with the 2013 Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award.
Branger was honored for his work with the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce and with a nonprofit he formed in his native Venezuela. He received a $2,000 grant that went to a charity of his choice, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Through his restaurant Zanguán Latin Café, a name referencing the elaborate vestibules of old Spanish and Latin American colonial houses, the Venezuelan-born entrepreneur has focused on local service with an international mindset since founding the restaurant in 2002.
“I strongly believe that an effective way to learn about a culture is through its food,” Branger says. “For our family, food has always been a way to share, learn and entertain.”
Before Dallas, before Zanguán, before even coming to the United States, Branger had already learned the importance of helping others.
Son of one of Venezuela’s first female civil engineers and a dairy entrepreneur who brought the first MRI unit to the state of Táchira, Branger sees how his parents planted “powerful seeds” in him that guided him through running a service and education nonprofit while attending Universidad Metropolitana in Caracas.
“My experience as a social leader in my youth reaffirmed what my parents taught me,” he says.
His parents’ example inspired Branger, spurring his entrepreneurial spirit after graduating from UNIMET and Kellogg, a pursuit that led to Zanguán.
Groups Branger support include Dallas Children Advocacy Center for sufferers of abuse, the Latin American aid organization HELPS International and Saint Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“Needless to say, businesses ought to be genuine and sincere in their involvement in social causes,” he says. “We have been fortunate that Zanguán’s customers have seen and appreciate the work we do, and the love and care with which we do it.”