Trending In 2012 - Local Expansion: Arepazo Tapas & Wine
Owners Carlos and Carolina Gutierrez on opening a second location
Tessa Berg Photos
A Downtown lunch crowd that braves long lines and tiny spaces to savor empanadas and tilapia burritos inspired El Arepazo Latin Grill owners Carlos and Carolina Gutierrez to expand in March. Unveiling Gahanna’s roomier, full-service, liquor-serving Arepazo Tapas & Wine, they joined other local independent restaurants—including Chile Verde Cafe—that opened second locations in 2012. The Gutierrez team shared about preparing their encore spot.
When did you decide to open a second location?
Carolina: We did knock on a lot of doors, and we were almost ready to sign a few times on different leases. It was probably the toughest time for us to open a second business, because we were expecting our first child. We were looking for this opportunity for so many years—maybe like two or three years—and it’s right here.
Carlos: And the terms were so easy. The landlord was like, “Listen, we’ll work a deal. Just make sure you pay my rent. I’ll help you out.” He was desperate to get somebody in here. The rent money was good. That right there was one obstacle that we crossed, and then the other one was that he included the liquor license.
What sold you on the Gahanna spot?
Carlos: Carolina and I looked around, and the first thing we noticed was the parking space. We know how important it is, being Downtown. Second, I think, the fact that it was a by-itself building. It was already established as a restaurant, so that saves you a lot of money right there. It’s a tiny little place. It’s 1,700 square feet, but that’s the kind of business that we like and we feel more comfortable with.
What was the toughest part about opening the new location?
Carolina: For me, we hope people embrace us as well as they did in Downtown. Even though we had the experience from Downtown, this was something different for us as well, because we’re open for dinner, we have a bar, we’re working with servers and a bigger staff. The bigger you get—and the more you offer to your customers—the more complicated.
Carlos: It’s definitely a learning experience, and Carolina’s right. One of the main things we find complicated or challenging still is trying to find the right staff to feed what we want them to deliver to the customers.
93 N. High St., Gahanna,