Last fall, Nigerian-born Ifiok Etuk began to transform the space at 2044 Clinton Street, Unit B, in Aurora into his own workplace, his own restaurant. The result is Hessini Roots International Cafe, a unique space that fuses soul food, African food and Mexican food into a veritable world tour of cuisine. With offerings ranging from hot wings to a catfish sandwich to pepper soup with goat, there's truly something for everyone at his distinctive place.
Etuk moved to Denver from Nigeria in 1987. "I worked at a Taco Bell for ten years," he told me. "I then got laid off and made a promise to myself to never work for anyone but myself again. I started going to clubs and selling burritos out of the back of my vehicle. I made a name for myself, and now I have my own restaurant."
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The first months haven't been easy, though. "I'm hanging in there and just trying to get the word out that I'm here," Etuk said. "It was a tough time to open, but we are doing our best."
The name of the restaurant came from his grandfather, who created the word "Hessini" from the first initials of his children. The 62-seat restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from noon to 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. Etuk told me that he's working on a website, but until then, just give him a call at 303-317-6531.