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Arepa Anticipation 

Bocata Arepa Bar goes all in on its second location on Broad St.

click to enlarge Eduin Serrudo (on left) and Alejandro Loreto are co-owners of Bocata Arepa Bar at 10170 W Broad St in Glen Allen.

Scott Elmquist

Eduin Serrudo (on left) and Alejandro Loreto are co-owners of Bocata Arepa Bar at 10170 W Broad St in Glen Allen.

Food is often a uniting element for those that share the passion. This holds true for Eduin Serrudo and Alejandro Loreto, owners of Bocata Arepa Bar.

Both originally from Venezuela, Serrudo and Loreto met in Richmond while working at a local restaurant. The passion for food and business ownership was always there for Serrudo, but there were aspects of restaurant ownership specifically that made him tentative.

“I always wanted to own a restaurant but was nervous about people eating our food,” says Serrudo. “Over time the idea grew on me.”

With a lengthy history of serving in restaurants, Serrudo knew how stressful that was. Once Serrudo and Loreto opened their first (now shuttered) spot – Bocata Latin Grill – in 2016, they got to experience the different stress of restaurant ownership.

According to Serrudo, the first two months were amazing.

“We had lots of support from family and friends and others posting online,” he says. But after that first whirlwind, things started to shift. “That’s when it got hard. That’s when we realized what it meant to own a restaurant,” he says.

The duo made the appropriate adjustments, because Bocata Arepa Bar became the pair’s second location in 2020. Unfortunately, they opened this spot just as the pandemic was hitting.

At first, the team operated both restaurants as to-go only and were open every day of the week. They quickly realized this schedule was not sustainable and relocated all workers to the newest location and limited their operating hours. Serrudo notes “that’s why we are only open four days a week now, and it’s amazing.”

click to enlarge Bocata Arepa Bar at 10170 W Broad St in Glen Allen - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Bocata Arepa Bar at 10170 W Broad St in Glen Allen

While Serrudo manages the restaurant experience, Loreto takes the reins in the kitchen. Loreto went to school to pursue cooking professionally and now uses his family’s recipes to demonstrate those skills, most of which come from his grandmother. According to Serrudo, Loreto claims, “his grandma cooks better, so I can’t wait to try it.”

Arepas, a sort of corn cake made from ground maize flour and filled with endless possibilities, are far and above the restaurant’s best-selling menu items. Fitting, given the restaurant’s namesake. Cheese is arguably the most common filling, but there are multitudes of culinary creations crafted by arepa purveyors. According to Serrudo, the Arepa Pabellon – an arepa filled to the brim with shredded beef, beans, plantains, and cheese – is a crowd favorite. Serrudo’s personal favorite is the Arepa Sifrina, stuffed with chicken avocado salad and cheese.

The rest of the menu includes other traditional Venezuelan dishes like Pepitos (Venezuelan subs) with potential accompaniments like Tequeños (Venezuelan-style cheese sticks) and Yuca Frita (yucca fries).

click to enlarge Patacon ($16) - fried green plantain sandwich with beef, chicken, ham, cheese, potato sticks, coleslaw, avocado, tomato, and homemade sauces. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Patacon ($16) - fried green plantain sandwich with beef, chicken, ham, cheese, potato sticks, coleslaw, avocado, tomato, and homemade sauces.

Whatever you order, make sure to utilize any and all sauces provided to you, especially the one in the tableside squeeze bottles. All restaurants in Venezuela have their own rendition of this garlic-cilantro sauce, and it is a major key to maximum food enjoyment here.

Also, don’t forget to order their tres leches to top things off.

To check out Bocata Arepa Bar, visit 10170 W Broad St in Glen Allen from Thurs-Saturday: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sunday: 9 a.m. -5 p.m.). In the meantime, follow them on social media (Instagram: @BocataArepaBar).

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