Opening Soon - Arepa & Co inploi Team | 23.02.2018
In London, we are spoilt for choice, with food offerings from all over the world - from places as far flung as Peru, Japan, Australia and Jamaica. But what about…Venezuela? Recently voted one of the top ten 'sandwiches' in London by the Evening Standard, how familiar are you with the humble arepa? Named after the traditional Venezuelan dish that forms the centre of their menu, Arepa and Co are taking on the challenge of bringing Venezuelan-inspired food to London's thriving restaurant scene. We caught with Ernesto, Managing Director at Arepa and Co in Haggerston, who has big plans for the future of Arepa and Co - starting with their second site opening in March this year.
"London has not yet discovered the Venezuelan Cuisine, and we want to make 'arepas' as well-known as burritos and tacos. It is time for Venezuelan food take its spot in the diverse and exciting London market. Our food is hearty, rich and colourful and a great new option to the always adventurer and open-minded Londoner."
Arepa and Co began as a food stall in Camden. Selling traditional Venezuelan Arepas (crunchy, flat cornbreads cooked on the grill, served with a selection of fillings) and Cachapas (a cornmeal pancake with a savoury and sweet kick to them), Arepa and Co's popularity grew, prompting them to expand within the market. However, London's unpredictable weather proved challenging for business and in 2014, they decided to make the move to their first permanent site in Haggerston. "There was nothing around here at the time," Ernesto says with a smile. "I would have never picked this location - I would have thought it was a suicidal thing to do, but my business partners did anyway!…Even though it was a new and unknown area and we didn't have signage outside, the location worked." Now Arepa and Co has become a foodie destination, with people queuing for up to an hour outside at weekends just to get a table for brunch, and they still don't have signage outside!
The café-turned-restaurant has evolved over time. Hammocks have been replaced with tables and chairs to optimise space. The menu now offers a three-course dinner. But the inspiration to serve delicious traditional Venezuelan recipes "from home" hasn't changed. At least, not yet…
For restaurant number two, opening near Bethnal Green, the team at Arepa and Co are going to be mixing things up a bit. They know their target audience - creatives and the young professionals (often working for startups in Shoreditch and Old Street). But with a bigger site comes greater opportunities. The kitchen for a start will grow from a small team of 7 staff, to a team of professional chefs, working in a space ten times the size currently occupied at Arepa and Co in Haggerston. Their new Head Chef is Venezuelan and understands the traditional food offering that Arepa and Co's customers know and love. He will be combining this knowledge with his previous experience working alongside the likes of Ottolenghi and Nopi, to create an exciting menu, featuring small plates inspired by Venezuelan ingredients and flavours, as well as a selection of enticing, traditional Venezuelan desserts.
"We are going to do what they love," Ernesto insists, eager to introduce their new concept to their most loyal customers during launch week. "We know what our customers love the most and we are keeping those. But we're also introducing a selection of exciting brand new dishes, and enhancing some of the existing ones. I'm interested to see whether our regular customers will start to love the new ones more!"
Arepa and Co's forthcoming opening marks an exciting opportunity for this team to bring Venezuelan food into the spotlight. Provided all goes to plan, we could see Arepa and Co's opening across London in the next few years. It's all about building the "right brand, with the right people", a creative process that inspires Ernesto and the team at Arepa and Co every day.
Are you interested in joining Arepa and Co? Ernesto and his team are now looking for fast-learning people who strive for excellence. People who love customer experience and are strong team players, willing to muck in when challenges arise.
This is a unique opportunity to join Arepa and Co and be an integral part of its growth and success, working with a great team of people who have taken Arepa and Co from its infancy - inspired by their passion for Venezuelan food and culture - and made it the success that it is today.
To find out more and apply to the latest opportunities available at Arepa and Co, click here to visit Arepa and Co's company page.