Customer Profile: Sal Zarzana

Neighborhoods Cafe is starting a new project! Each month, a different customer and vendor will be highlighted in our blog Our Customers, Our Community. Through these posts, we hope to dig deeper into our community at Fenway and the Boston area and learn more about the people we spend our time with. From the regulars whose orders we know by heart to the dedicated vendors who supply the freshest foods every week, each person has a place at Neighborhoods. Grab a cup of coffee and learn about our community with us.

This week we sat down with Sal Zarzana, a customer who almost always has an iced Beestinger in hand and a beanie on his head. A student at Emmanuel studying Psychology, Sal frequently makes a pit stop at Neighborhoods before heading to classes or while out for a walk. He first came to Neighborhoods his freshman year of college, stopping by on occasion, and over the years it has become a staple in his life. Here is just a little bit of Sal and his story.

“The atmosphere [of Neighborhoods] is the first thing that comes to mind. It’s just so warm and bright and friendly. It’s very nice and it’s almost destressing in a sense because…it’s not as anxiety-ridden. [A] really enjoyable thing is being able to calm down, take a moment, have my shoulders relax and deeply breathe and take it all in without feeling rushed or uncomfortable. That’s why I come to Neighborhoods. I definitely get that here.”

“I would say one thing that has shaped me…is the idea of independence and what that actually means. I think that for the majority of my time here at Emmanuel and in Boston I didn’t really have to confront that outright because I always had friends around me, and I was always doing something. I wasn’t necessarily alone, even though [I] was lonely. But then this year all my friends are busy, we all have different schedules, and I literally was alone for 24 hours of the day. And so I was like, ‘Oh, I have to spend some time by myself.’ At first it’s a struggle, but I think I’ve gotten so used to being independent that I’ve embraced it; the good and the bad.”

“A hobby that I do for fun is go for walks a lot. I also like to run. I like to be out in the city, out in the sunlight embracing the day and the peace and quiet, escaping from myself while also being outside and in the world. Neighborhoods is a pit stop for me, and it puts me in the right state of mind to get where I need to be while I decompress after my run.”

“The…other thing about me that I really value and has a lot of worth is being non-judgmental, open-minded and true to myself and my values. Obviously anyone can say that, but I will never compromise who I am in order to fit some prescribed role. More so now than ever I’ve become very rebellious, but only in the best way I think. I think that really drives me to be my authentic self.”

“I didn’t always think the way I do or feel so confident in myself, so definitely now to have that is so empowering. [I am] unapologetic about the things that I like and the things that I do. It’s not really social acceptable to jam out while listening to music. You’re supposed to just sit there stoically and stare, and I am just not going to do it. I am going to jam out and be awkward, and if it makes you uncomfortable, you know what, don’t look!”

-Sal Zarzana