Lorena Cantarovici, who immigrated to Denver from Argentina, founded the restaurant by selling empanadas to her friends and family. Today, the concept offers hand-crafted empanadas and other tradition Argentinian dishes at three locations across the Denver metro area.
“Maria Empanada is all about the American dream — the belief that everything can be accomplished through hard work and perseverance,” Cantarovici said in a statement. “CIF’s investment means I get to take that dream to the next level — to drive growth of new Maria Empanada locations. There is such a strong demand for craft-casual food and Maria Empanada is continuing its mission to become the nation’s leading artisanal empanada restaurant concept.”
Cantarovici has been recognized as the US Small Business Administration’s 2017 Colorado Small Business Person of the Year Award. Zagat rated Maria Empanada as “one of the 12 hottest new bakeries in America;” and the chain won a Top 50 Colorado Companies to Watch Award. Maria Empanada also has been featured on the Food Network in addition to a multitude of local, national and international publications.
“Lorena Cantarovici is emblematic of the type of entrepreneur CIF supports,” said Grace Oliva of the Colorado Impact Fund. “We have been incredibly impressed by Lorena’s ability to develop an on-trend, differentiated and highly scalable craft casual concept. CIF is excited to partner with a talented and dynamic female entrepreneur. Supporting female and minority-led businesses that have the potential for high growth and profitability is central to CIF’s mission.”