Quiero Arepas couldn't have picked a better day for the grand opening of its first brick-and-mortar restaurant than Saturday, April 20. Not that you need to get stoned to experience a craving for the eatery's Venezuelan arepas, but 4/20 is a great day to celebrate a Denver original — and it's also the ninth anniversary of Quiero, founded as a street-food stand by Igor and Beckie Panasewicz in 2010.
After a short time selling arepas at farmers' markets, the couple hit the streets with a food truck before finding a home at Avanti Food & Beverage in 2015. But a solo Quiero Arepas was always part of the plan, one that came to fruition last December, when Makan Malaysian closed at 1859 South Pearl Street. The owner was a friend, so the Panasewiczes agreed to take over the lease.
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Now, following a quick remodel, the new Quiero Arepas will open at 3 p.m. on Saturday, serving arepas until 9 p.m. After that, the team will take Sunday off before launching into regular hours from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
The couple founded their eatery with the goal of serving fresh, all-natural and gluten-free Venezuelan street food using meats, produce and cheese from local farms and producers. Menu items are served with a minimum of packaging — no straws, lids, side cups or plates (the sandwich-like arepas come wrapped only in thin food-service foil).
Quiero Arepas will remain open at Avanti, and the food truck, powered by natural gas, will continue to roam the streets.