Hola Arepa parks at 35th & Nicollet

Credit: Submitted image

The owners of the Hola Arepa food truck bought out El Paraiso’s restaurant space in order to land at 3501 Nicollet Ave.

“We live in the area, and we figured we’d just take a chance and approach them,” said co-owner Christina Nguyen.

Construction is underway, and the owners are taking selfies with sombreros and tweeting that a “9am beer run can only mean one thing… Demolition Day!”

Before launching the truck, Nguyen owned a screen-printing business and the clothing boutique Design Collective at 26th & Hennepin. (She sold her interest in the shop and it has since closed.) Co-owner Birk Grudem previously bartended at venues including Bradstreet Craftshouse.

Nguyen and Grudem have long dreamed of opening a Spanish-themed restaurant with a cocktail focus. The food truck was their strategy to start small.

“It was a good opportunity to see whether the food concept was good enough and whether people would like it,” Nguyen said.

Their new restaurant will have a “rustic bistro vibe” and the menu will feature about 10 different arepas (cornmeal griddle-cake sandwiches from Venezuela), along with appetizers, Latin small plates and a full cocktail menu.

“We’re working on a menu with different Central and South American dishes you don’t ordinarily have here,” Nguyen said.

The owners hope to operate until midnight Sunday thru Thursday and until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

The target opening date is early May.