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How Maria Empanada’s founder Lorena Cantarovici took on the restaurant industry

The former banker brings love and inspiration to her food in Denver


When Argentinian former banker Lorena Cantarovici arrived in the United States, she had $300 and opened her first location of Maria Empanada with $4000 in loans.

“It was super challenging. That door didn’t open enough for me to survive. Maria Empanada almost died two years in,” she said. “But something told me I was going in the right direction.”

Her customers were coming back, even though there weren’t many of them, and buying a lot of empanadas.

“The versatility of the product was adaptable to the United States,” she said.

Customers would buy over a dozen and bring them back home to the freezer.

Despite this, Cantarovici was told she “wasn’t bankable” when trying to get a loan. She got funding through the Colorado Enterprise Fund, after which she was able to move to a bigger location on Broadway Ave in Denver.

“That’s when I learned location, location, location is everything,” she said. Then she got a bank loan for her second unit.

Listen to the full podcast to hear Lorena Cantarovici, founder of Maria Empanada, describe the highs and lows of operating a small business.

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