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Arepas | Hispanic Business Month Highlight

Starkville, MS

Arepas, Starkville, MS  – Jose Elarba, owner

Tell us about your business! 

Arepas is a restaurant that features Venezuelan food ( family recipes ), great coffee and is a bar. We wanted to share our food and our culture, something new for everybody here. 

It has been open for 2 years in Starkville, MS. We are happy to have found such a good spot to start our business, a good opportunity.   

Describe the food:

The arepas of course !  Our main dish is cornflower bread that’s healthy. We use them to make sandwiches. It’s not thin like a tortilla, it’s thick like a bread and you open it and put fillings inside. It’s really good !  Cachapa – a corn pancake, is my favorite.  It’s a little sweet and we fill it with cheese and it’s incredible – I alway recommend that one. 

Is the food spicy? 

No, not at all ! It’s not spicy like Mexican food. 

Why did you decide to open a coffee bar and a bar? 

We wanted to have something for everyone! Come in the daytime and study with great coffee and come back at night for a drink and to relax – plus, the food is great with both. 

Do you or your family have a background in small business?  

Yes !  My dad had a construction company in Venezuela. I have always loved working with food and in Venezuela had a chicken restaurant. My family is very supportive of me.

How did the Mississippi SBDC help your business? 

They were there from the very beginning. I sent an email and then I met with Chip Templeton in his office.  It was easy and quick. He answered all my questions about my business plan and for marketing too. They’ve been there for everything that I needed! 

What did you learn that surprised you most about being a small business owner? 

I learned that if you own a restaurant you have to be here 24/7!  Another thing is all the people you get to meet and to know. I’ve made so many good friends and that’s really nice. 

What are your plans for Arepas in the future?

My dream is to expand this concept and have different locations all over. 

What would you say to others about the help that the Mississippi SBDC offers?

I recommend them 100 percent !  They will help you out for sure ! 

What is your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur? 

It’s a nice experience – go for it !  I love it!

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