Hector Pina 1

Hector Piña is a restaurant owner, activist, and entrepreneur. Hector moved to Boston from the Dominican Republic in 1986. Eight years later, in August 1994, he opened his restaurant Merengue with five tables and a small menu of authentic Dominican cuisine. Fast-forward nineteen years and a new location, Merengue has thirty tables, an event space, and caters home games at Fenway Park.

As a child growing up in the Dominican Republic, Piña loved to compare the various flavors he tasted and imagine his own delicious dishes. These childhood imaginings and memories inspired Piña’s recipes at Merengue. When he first began planning Merengue, Piña knew he wanted it to have all the traditional flavors of his grandmother’s kitchen, but with all-natural ingredients. Once patrons taste a dish in a restaurant like this, Piña believes, they’ll go straight back in time and feel like they’re eating from their mother’s own table.

Merengue has now become the jewel of Dominican cuisine in Boston, and considered the Best Latino Caterer in Boston, according to Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” list. In July 2012, Hector and his wife Nivia Piña, opened an upscale authentic Puerto Rican cuisine restaurant, Vejigantes, which was recently voted as 1st in the nation as Best Puerto Rican Restaurant. Their third restaurant, Doña Habana, opened in 2016 located at the Hampton Inn in New Market Square—the first Latin owned restaurant in a hotel in Massachusetts. As with their first two restaurants, it was recognized in the top 25 Best Cuban Restaurants in the country. Cilantro Latin Kitchen is the latest addition to their restaurant portfolio, which features healthy Latin food from Puerto Rico, Cuba, and some of the Caribbean Islands. Soon to be open in the New Mission Hill area with a fast-casual concept that will target traditional food cooked in a healthy style.

Hector’s community involvement has made him serve on the advisory board of Nuestra Comunidad CDC, Project RIGHT, and  Blue Hill Task Force. Currently sits at the Board of Directors for Boston Arts Academy Foundation. He has also served on the advisory board of events like Jolgorio Navideño, a Latin American gala in Boston that raises funds for Latino-based educational programs, VOTO Latino, a civic organization that promotes community participation in local politics, and We Are Boston a City of Boston initiative for the new Bostonians. Hector has also been the recipient of 2012 Poder Latino from Oistes?, 2012 Premio Betances from Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA), 100 Most Powerful People in Boston award from El Planeta newspaper since 2010, the Community Leadership Award by Nuestra Comunidad CDC in 2004 & 2011. 2008 Most Influential Leader Award by Boston Latino TV. One of the 100 Most Influential People Award from Get Konnected. 2014 Marshall by El Festival Puertorriqueño in Boston. In 1999 Hector received the Business of the Year Award by Nuestra Comunidad and 1999 Latino Professional Network, Entrepreneur of the Year. The Dominican Festival as Grand Marshall also recognized him in 1999 and 2009 for his great contribution to the community. 2014 Commonwealth of Massachusetts Small Business Champion Award. Leonardo Award 2014 for Outstanding Business and Civic Leadership. 2017 Hispanic Heritage Month Award for Community Involvement. 2017 Men’s Health Champion Award from the Dimock Health Center.