Q&A with Joel Aispuro, Sandpoint Living Local’s Person of the Year

Serving up a taste of family, community, and a vision for the future By Abigail Thorpe |Photo By Rachel Adair

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If you’ve been in Sandpoint any time at all, odds are you’ve stopped by Joel’s for a delicious bite. But the man behind the scenes doesn’t just serve up a good taco. Husband, father of four and City Council member Joel Aispuro was nominated as Sandpoint Living Local’s Finest Person of the Year for 2021. Since he first moved here at the age of 8, Sandpoint has been home, and today, you’ll find him behind the scenes in more ways than one. A man who understands community and works daily to foster it throughout our town, Joel will be the first to greet you with a warm smile and welcoming handshake.

Q. What sets Sandpoint apart and makes it such an incredible community? A. The people of our community are wonderful. It's nice to be able to walk down the street or go to the grocery store and see and talk to people you know. There are many people who are willing to help you out in a moment’s notice. To me, that is priceless. Not to mention we have an amazing ski mountain and beautiful lake.

Q. How is the community of Sandpoint so integral to both your business and your family, and how do you strive to be involved? A. For any business, community is essential. As I like to say, it takes two to tango. We try to serve a good, tasty meal for a good price, and it takes the community to desire what you serve. As for my family, it is very essential as well. We are involved in many ways. For example, it has given me the opportunity to be elected and serve as a City Council member. My wife and I have helped with Kick Start Soccer; I also have coached basketball within the community. We want our children to grow up and see the importance of serving and being involved in their community. Further, as Christians, we want them to learn how to genuinely love people as Jesus did.

Q. You were nominated as Sandpoint Living Local's Finest for 2021 in the categories of Person of the Year, Casual Eats, and Family Owned Business. What does this mean to you? A. Being voted Person of the Year is very humbling to me. I do my best to be a caring member of the community with no reward. This award encourages me to continue to do my best to serve our community. From the business side of things, it means so much for our family. It is truly an honor for us. We have worked very hard to be where we are. We love all the restaurants here, and we are thankful to be a part of this great community with them. I look forward to keeping the legacy going, watching my kids work and be a part of the family business.

Q. As a City councilman, what are some visions you have for Sandpoint, and what do you hope to achieve during your time? A. As a growing city, there is much to be done. A goal is to continue to work with fellow council members and staff to do what's best for the growing community; working within our legal boundaries to make wise decisions. Achievement wise, it is very important for me to continue to do my best to encourage and help community members get involved and be informed. The more we can come together as a community, the stronger we will be—especially during difficult times.

Q. What do you love most about Sandpoint and about being a business owner here? A. There is so much to love about Sandpoint. From the beauty of the mountains to the sunsets over our glorious lake. Not only are the views something to fall in love with, but I also sincerely love knowing so many exceptional people in Sandpoint and the surrounding areas. I love knowing that if I need help, it doesn't take long to get it. Or if someone needs my help, they are not afraid to ask. To me, that's a vital sign of having a healthy community.

Q. Is there a specific person or moment that has helped inspire you and that you look up to in your own work in the community? A. My biggest inspiration comes from my faith, my wife, and my children. The Lord has called me to love and take care of my family. My wonderful wife works exceedingly hard homeschooling our children and taking care of them while I'm at work (which is a much harder job than what I do). There are also plenty of people in this community I look up to in the food and beverage industry. My father and mother of course, as they have set the foundation for our business. I also look at our community and see people like Justin Dick from Trinity, Bob and his family from City Beach Organics, to name a few. There are many other inspiring people to look up to in our community.

Q. What’s been a key moment from the past year, something that you look back on with pride/joy/thankfulness? A. As I look back on this past year, I could write a book on what I am thankful for. I am so thankful to be re-elected to serve as a City Council member. I am proud of our past and current council working together, navigating through uncharted territory. Also, I am so thankful to our faithful customers, keeping us going through a pandemic. Last but certainly not least, I am so thankful to be able to make a living that provides for my family and the ability to live in our wonderful community.


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