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."
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."
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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.