Food is often a unifying ingredient for those who share a passion. This applies to Eduin Serrudo and Alejandro Loreto, owners of Bocata Arepa Bar.
Both from Venezuela, Cerrodo and Loreto met in Richmond while working at a local restaurant. A passion for food and business ownership has always been with Serrudo, but there were aspects of restaurant ownership specifically that made it temporary.
“I’ve always wanted to own a restaurant, but I was worried about people eating our food,” Cerudo says. “Over time the idea grew on me.”
With a long history of serving in restaurants, Cerrodo knew how stressful it was. Once Serrudo and Loreto opened their first (now closed) location – Bocata Latin Grill – in 2016, they were exposed to various pressures from restaurant ownership.
According to Cerrodo, the first two months were amazing.
“We’ve had a lot of support from family, friends, and others who are posting online,” he says. But after that first hiccup, things started to turn. “That’s when it got tough. That was when we realized what it means to own a restaurant.
The duo made the appropriate tweaks, because Bocata Arepa Bar became the pair’s second location in 2020. Unfortunately, they opened this place up just as the pandemic was hitting.
Initially, the team operated both restaurants as available only and were open every day of the week. They soon realized that this schedule was unsustainable and moved all workers to the latest location and limited their working hours. Cerudo notes that “that’s why we’re open now four days a week, which is amazing.”
While Serrudo runs the restaurant experience, Loreto takes over 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 Cerrodo, Loreto claims that “his grandmother cooks better, so I can’t wait to try it.”
Arepas, a type of corn cake made from ground cornmeal and filled with endless possibilities, is far above the restaurant’s best-selling menu items. Appropriate, given the name of the restaurant itself. Cheese is arguably the most common filling, but there are many culinary creations made by diners. According to Serrudo, Arepa Pabellon—a papa filled to the brim with shredded beef, beans, bananas, and cheese—is a crowd favorite. Serrudo’s personal favorite is the Arepa Sifrina stuffed with chicken, avocado, and cheese salad.
The rest of the menu includes other traditional Venezuelan dishes like Pepitos (Venezuelan subs) with possible accompaniments like Tequeños (Venezuelan-style cheese sticks) and Yuca Frita (Yuca Fries).
Whatever your order, be sure to use any and all kinds of sauces offered to you, especially those in table-side squeeze bottles. All restaurants in Venezuela have their own serving of garlic and coriander sauce, which is a major key to maximizing the enjoyment of the food here.
Also, don’t forget to ask their Trice to top things off.
To check out the Bocata Arepa Bar, visit 10170 W Broad St in Glen Allen (Thursday-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).