Denver grab-and-go expert Maria Empanada will open eight new stores following a $3.5 million investment, the company announced Thursday.
The cozy Argentinian eatery with three metro area locations is receiving financial backing from Colorado Impact Fund, a local venture capital firm. With the money, Maria Empanada will expand its reach into new neighborhoods and regionally, scaling up by a handful of locations in the next four years.
Owner Lorena Cantarovici opened her empanada business, named for her grandmother, in Denver in 2010. Using memories of her childhood in Buenos Aires and a strict adherence to tradition, she fashioned her recipe and sold the doughy pockets of meat, cheeses, potatoes, spices, and other ingredients, out of her garage.
What began as a small catering business has since expanded, adding more Latin American delicacies such as tartas and Spanish tortillas into the mix, and most recently opening a space inside Stanley Marketplace. Though Maria Empanada now sells some 40 varieties and flavors, each empanada is still folded by hand, each with a unique fold, or repulgue.
This year, Cantarovici won the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Colorado Small Business Person of the Year Award. Though Maria Empanada has grown slowly and steadily since its opening, according to Cantarovici, the brand is ready to ramp up its efforts and craft an empanada empire.