Faith flavors new Mexican restaurant in Edina

| March 31, 2017 | 0 Comments

Gabriel Corona, left, and his wife, Alma Moreno, prepare “burritos norteños” March 29 at their Edina restaurant, Los Padres Mexican Food. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

A new Mexican restaurant in Edina run by a Catholic family served 80 guests on its first day of operation, despite serving no meat — or fried fish — on a Lenten Friday.

“I’ve heard of businesses when they open, they were like, ‘Well, we had one or two customers,’” said Alma Moreno, a co-owner of the new Los Padres restaurant. “I think for the first day, we did pretty good.”

Moreno and her husband, Gabriel Corona, opened Los Padres March 24. She said their menu has plenty of options that work well meatless.

“I don’t think most of them cared [about not having meat],” Moreno said.

It didn’t hurt that Moreno and Corona, parishioners of Sts. Joachim and Anne in Shakopee, had extra support.

“There were so many people that would pass along in here and [say] ‘Oh, we were waiting for you guys to open’ or ‘We know Father Kevin [Finnegan] or ‘Oh, we were sent here by Father Erik [Lundgren],’” Moreno said.

Burritos norteños, a signature dish at Los Padres. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Los Padres, named in honor of the priests who helped the Corona family over the years, offers authentic Mexican food in an atmosphere that displays the family’s reverence for their Catholic faith and the priesthood.

“They’re a beautiful family,” said Father Lundgren, pastor of Sts. Joachim and Anne.

Their restaurant decor includes a large wall display with a priest biretta, a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe and various historic photos with clergy from St. Mark in Shakopee, which merged in 2011 with St. Mary in Shakopee and St. Mary of the Purification in Marystown to form Sts. Joachim and Anne.

A Latin inscription of the Our Father also runs along a couple of the mustard-red walls. Father Michael Daly of St. Stephen in Minneapolis gave that idea for the couple.

The initial reviews were good.

“I think that the place is nice,” said Delphine Duff of St. Patrick in Edina, who came with her neighbors, Robert and Elaine Sandilla, to try the new restaurant and enjoy the food.

Located on Amundson Avenue, Los Padres offers a variety of authentic dishes. The menu includes family recipe, “burritos norteños”: flour tortillas with seasoned pork, melted cheese and poblano peppers inside, topped with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and salsa.

Similarly, “posole verde,” a green hominy chicken soup, comes from Corona’s hometown area in Mexico.

Corona, who enjoys cooking, had long desired to start a restaurant, but spent many years working odd jobs before it came to fruition. At one point, Corona was doing yard work professionally, and Moreno worked with dry cleaners.

Moreno admits that her husband, who doesn’t speak English, really wanted to start the restaurant.

“I thought about it long and prayed, but at the end, he loves the kitchen,” Moreno said.

Finding a site took some time. They looked at their eventual site seven years earlier, but the property sold to a coffee shop, which later closed.

Corona and Moreno then worked to obtain the vacant property and got started to prepare the restaurant in August 2016. That included remodeling and getting a new oven hood for the kitchen. They passed their final inspection seven months later on St. Patrick’s Day.

Providentially, they had a location less than a block from the original St. Patrick Church in Edina, which is commemorated by a historic marker.

“We have very good feeling about this place,” Moreno said.

Priests have been a concrete way Corona’s family has experienced God’s providential care. It started early in life for Corona, whose father was raised by a priest as an orphan in Mexico. Over the years, Corona’s family has become friends with many priests. Moreno said they consider them family.

“Every priest that we’ve met, we get really close to them,” Moreno said.

That includes Father Lundgren, who originally posed the idea of using the word “Padres” in the restaurant name. However, Corona and Moreno didn’t go with it right away.

Using the family name, Corona, looked like a possibility.

“We thought about it and thought about it, and someone said, ‘Why don’t you just ask a lawyer before you do that name because ‘Corona’ is the beer, and they have rights to that name,’” Moreno said.

Instead, Corona and Moreno sought input from friends via Facebook. All sorts of names came up, but it all rounded back to Los Padres.

“And then at the end, my husband is like, ‘Let’s do Los Padres,’” Moreno said.

Having that name speaks of what the Shakopee family believes, beyond their many friendships with priests. The family strives to deepen their faith by praying the rosary, sending their five children to Catholic schools and attending Sunday Mass.

“We’re teaching our kids that it’s very important [and] that the only way to get through life is God,” Moreno said.

With the commitment to Sunday Mass, Corona and Moreno have opted to close their restaurant on Sundays. Moreno said they treat it as the Lord’s Day and a time for family.

“That’s one of the rules we have in our family — everybody knows that’s family time,” Moreno said.

Whatever income is sacrificed because of that commitment is worth it, she said. “It’s going to hurt us when we die and we don’t go to heaven,” Moreno said.

That faith motivates Corona and Moreno to run their restaurant counter to convention — meatless Fridays in Lent included.

“We wanted to stay true to our religion,” Moreno said.



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