New restaurant is ‘dream’ come true

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By Alix Mattingly


A dream 10 years in the making has finally taken form in Crestwood.

Longtime friends Gabriel Frankel and Raul Blanco opened the windows to Gara Empanada on March 7. The drive-through or walk-up restaurant in the Pioneer Village parking lot off Veterans Memorial Parkway serves seven flavors of empanadas accompanied by homemade sauces.

“Every country has a form of empanada with a different name or style,” Blanco said. “We are trying to offer the best empanada for the community.”

Empanadas are dough pockets filled with a mixture of vegetables and meat, Blanco said. The handmade empanadas are approximately four inches across the base and are baked until golden brown. The empanadas at Gara’s come with one of three homemade sauces that give the empanadas a bit of a kick, the owners said.

Blanco, originally from Argentina, came to Kentucky to work in the thoroughbred industry. He grew up on a ranch and was a ranch manager before making his way to America with his family in 2001. While here, he met Frankel, who is originally from Columbia, and the two became friends.

The duo had often talked of opening an empanada restaurant. Last year, Frankel took the first step by launching an empanada food truck. He then approached Blanco about setting up a brick and mortar store and Gara Empanada was born.

A combination of the names Gabriel and Raul, the business has seen a steady flow of customers since opening, Blanco said. Some customers have even asked if the business will begin to sell their sauces by the bottle, a wish that will soon be fulfilled, the duo said. They will also offer frozen, bake-at-home empanadas in the coming month.

“I know it’s something different,” Blanco said, “It’s going to be hard to get people to try it, but we’re not going to give up.”

Blanco said that his main goal is to provide a healthy food option that customers can count on to be consistent in quality.

“I think our community needs something like this, especially our kids,” Blanco said.

Blanco and Frankel plan to have the food truck out at local events and are already planning to add a deck to their current location in Crestwood. The partners have been looking to add other locations to the growing Gara family and have their eye on a place in Prospect.

“Slowly, step-by-step, we are going to get into the community,” Blanco said.

Email us about this story at amattingly@oldhamera.com.