Dave Castillo, 53, owner and operator of EPIC Bar and Nightclub, is a fixture in the Downtown community, not only as a business owner but as a philanthropist and member of the LGBTQ+ community. We had a moment on the tail-end of Pride month to have a long overdue Q&A session to glean a little more about Dave, his past and his future.
Can you please tell us a little about your background? Where did you grow up?
I was born in Los Angeles, California and moved here at the age of two and grew up in El Paso. I went to Ysleta high school, graduated from Bel Air high school and got my Associate’s degree form EPCC and my bachelor’s degree in Public Relations & Marketing from UTEP in 2005.
When did you decide that being an entrepreneur and owning your own night club was what you wanted to do?
I have been in the service industry for the past 30+ years and as soon as I became a bartender, the next step for me was owning my own business. This came to me 10 years ago when I had done some research on what was necessary to own a bar. Using all of my years of experience and integrating all that I envisioned for what I wanted, I was able to create a plan and eventually make it a reality nine years ago. This is when EPIC Bar and Nightclub was established and first opened it’s doors for the city of El Paso!
Is this the path you always thought you’d take, or did you have other dreams and aspirations growing up?
I always wanted to have my own business, but I just wasn’t sure what that would be. I had various jobs in my professional career, but in regard to becoming a business owner, I found myself always gravitating to the bar business. So, in a way, yes, you can say my dreams did come true!
What do you enjoy most about the Downtown night life and your thoughts on how ‘Pride Square’ has become a facet in Downtown?
I [appreciate] that I can provide a fun and safe place for not only the LGBTQ+ community of El Paso, but for the entire community in general. There aren’t many nightclubs available to go dance, showcase amazing DJs and provide ‘epic’ service (pun intended) for nightlife enthusiasts. So, I am happy to provide this venue for them.
Another great thing is that I can support many organizations to raise funds for their respective organizations and tie it into the nightlife experiences EPIC provides, such as drag shows with special guest performers from all over.
My friends and I started EP Sun City Pride, and named the area, ‘Pride Square,’ but had no idea the name would stick. I’m so happy that it did because I’m proud to have been part of the growth and history of Downtown, El Paso!
Do you have a favorite story about Downtown in the many years you’ve run your club?
In all the nine years of running EPIC, one of the most memorable moments was just recently when the city painted the rainbows on the crosswalks. This, for me, was all that was needed to reaffirm that Pride Square is here to stay. And my favorite story was when we were able to open our doors back in March of 2013 and knowing one hundred percent that my dreams came true of finally and officially becoming a business owner.
How active are you with the PRIDE activity in El Paso?
As the founder or EP Sun City Pride, it is easy to say that I am very active in all things Pride in El Paso, one hundred percent!
Along with the time and dedication of amazing board members throughout these past 17 years of spearheading projects for this organization, I have been able to keep ‘Pride’ alive and thriving. I am also working hard to continue to provide the entire community of El Paso great events, community outreach and fundraisers that benefit El Pasoans. Some of these include the Easter Basket drive, Back to School supplies drive, the EP Sun City Pridefest Celebration, Pride Block Parties, Pride Bar Crawls and much more. For me, the best part is that I love to work hard and create huge events, because the bigger our events are, the more opportunity myself and the organization will have to provide academic scholarships for students in El Paso that will allow them the chance to complete their post-secondary education.
What would you like to accomplish in the future, or see in Downtown?
I would like to be able to bring in more events to Downtown, El Paso. With all of the experience that I have gained within the service industry and the nine years as a bar owner, I have been able to partner up with other events in the city such as Sun City Music Festival (SCMF), Neon Desert Music Festival (NMDF), Sun City Craft Beer Fest (SCCBF), Downtown Street Festival, and various events produced by El Paso Live and Destination El Paso. I was recently contracted to run the bars for the Sal y Limon Festival that brought in 3,000+ attendees to the Downtown area. I will one day soon be producing my own event… one day!