PATERSON, NJ - In a city where great food is pegged as one of the key ingredients to successful redevelopment, one family run restaurant in the 6th Ward is building a reputation as a destination for authentic Colombian cuisine.
Named for the traditional corn pancake made following a recipe from the owner’s native home city of Medellin, Bendita Arepa has been open for just under a year, but, as evidenced on the afternoon TAPinto Paterson visited, already become a destination of choice for staff in the nearby St. Joseph’s Hospital as well as construction workers spending their day on projects in the area.
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With lunch specials of hot entrees including chicken, meat, or pork, accompanied with a side and a drink, for just $8, it’s no wonder a seat is hard to come by. But it’s not just locals enjoying the great tastes and warm atmosphere, co-owner Estafania Arrollave suggested.
“Everybody like Colombian food,” Arrollave said, adding that they’ve had repeat guests from more than 30 minutes away because they can get “a lot of food for less money.” With a covered outdoor patio, Bendita Arepa has also played host to several family events, including a wedding.
Indeed, a large part of the restaurant’s growing popularity is the support the affable restaurateur, and her partner, Santiago Velez, have received tremendous help in the endeavor from their family. While both dreamed of opening their own restaurant like Santiago’s mother had previously, they settled for several years with making and selling their signature dish from home.
Finally, after searching for the perfect location for almost 12 months, and with the assistance of the Paterson UEZ and the William Paterson University Small Business Development Center, Bendita Arepa opened at 791 Main Street.
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week, word has spread quickly about not only the heaping plates of goodness and stuffed arepas, but also desserts baked onsite and the fresh juices on offer.
Keeping a laser like focus on providing great quality fresh meals, and hospitable service, Estafania offered a hope that they will one day be able to expand, and perhaps open a second location.
Just like Paterson’s recently coined motto states, there’s no doubt that Bendita Arepa also has a “great future.”
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