Thursday, December 2, 2021

After closing 2 points during the pandemic, Maria Empanada rents in Berkeley.

After the closure of two locations during the pandemic, Maria Empanada is ready to start all over again.

A local Argentine restaurant plans to open next year at 3535 W. 44th Ave. in Berkeley, which will bring the company back to four locations.

“This time we wanted to open up in the area because people will always be there, whether you work from home or not,” founder Lorena Kantarovici told BusinessDen. “You sleep there, you wake up there, and even if you leave, you will always return there.”

Maria Empanada closed her Tech Center building in Denver when its lease at 8000 E. Belleview Ave. ended at the end of June, due to slower office traffic. Around the same time, Kantarovici decided not to reopen the company’s kiosk at the Broadway Market food hall at 950 Broadway, which had yet to reopen since the close of the pandemic.

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“The feeling of opening another place inspires hope and accelerates everyone,” she said. “This means growth that matters a lot after 2020, when there were more downs than ups.”

Kantarovici immigrated from Buenos Aires to the United States in 2009 with only $ 300 in her pocket, and the following year began making empanada in her home kitchen. She opened her first restaurant at 1298 S. Broadway in Platt Park in 2011. This place is still open, as are the restaurants at 1700 Platte St. at LoHi and at Stanley Market in Aurora.

Amy Brothers, Denver Post

Lorena Kantarovichi, owner of Maria Empanada at the Broadway Market on February 20, 2019 in Denver.

In late October, Kantarovichi leases a 1,644-square-foot space in Berkeley, formerly a Pilates studio. She hopes to be able to open in the next four months, but “this is probably not realistic,” she said.

Maria Empanada hired Denver-based Elsy Studios for the interior design. She said she needed to build a patio and a kitchen.

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