Marco, Jinette, and Edmundo Meraz of Republica Empanada on Their Menu's Inspiration and Chris Bianco
This is part two of our interview with Marco, Jinette and Edmundo Meraz of Republica Empanada in Mesa. Today Jinette dishes on how she met her husband and why it wasn't love at first sight. Marco share the advice he got from Chris Bianco and where they got the inspiration for their Latin-inspired menu. In case you missed it, you can read part one, in which the family tells us why they choose to locate in Mesa, you can read it here.
Lauren Saria Marco, Jinette, and Edmundo Meraz of Republica Empanada in Mesa
Two years after Jinette landed in the Valley, Edmundo arrived from Mexico with his family. His mother, as fate would have it, worked at Jinette's family's restaurant as a server and the two kids went to the same school -- which isn't to say they hit it off immediately.
'We used to fight a lot," Jinette says with a smile, recalling their days in school together.
After getting married, the couple had five children, all born in Mesa and most of whom still live there now. Jinette, who will be 65 in April, worked for the school district as a bus driver and Edmundo test-drove cars for General Motors. When her kids enrolled in school, Jinette began to clean houses so she could have a better schedule. She remembers being asked to cook black beans by the families she worked for because "back then, it was a big deal." Neither of them had ever owned a restaurant before now, though, or really considered it until a few years ago.
Lauren Saria Jinette and Edmundo
The idea began when the family started selling empanadas from a cart at a local (now closed) co-op. They quickly gained a following for their Latin eats and began to toy with the idea of opening a brick-and-mortar spot. They were "flirting with the idea" and looking for potential locations, casually, when they came upon the mid-century building just outside of downtown proper.
"We love this location because we're off the beaten path but still downtown," Jinette says.
"We were tempted to go somewhere like Tempe," Marco says. "But we're stuck to Mesa. Mesa is always ready for something new and fresh."