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Friday, July 01, 2022

Cuban restaurant to bring Latin flavor to city of Alachua

<p>Patrons Tammy Bernard, left, and Jenny Lee, right, eat a meal outside Mi Apa Latin Cafe on 34th Street. The cafe will open a second location Monday in Alachua at 15634 NW Highway 441.</p>

Patrons Tammy Bernard, left, and Jenny Lee, right, eat a meal outside Mi Apa Latin Cafe on 34th Street. The cafe will open a second location Monday in Alachua at 15634 NW Highway 441.

After operating in Gainesville for a decade, Mi Apá Latin Cafe plans to spice up Alachua.

The business, at 114 SW 34th Ave., will open its second location Monday.

Located at 15634 NW Highway 441, the new restaurant will be a near-replica of the Gainesville location.

It will have the same colorfully painted walls, square orange tables and $5 to $8 price range on its menu, said owner Peter Ynigo.

He said the only feature the Alachua restaurant will lack is a drive-thru window. In Gainesville, he said, about 25 percent of the cafe’s business is passed through the window — business he said the restaurant can probably make up for through the friendly atmosphere and good location.

Ynigo said he chose the Alachua location because it’s near Interstate 75 but is close enough to Gainesville to maintain strong brand recognition.

The building Mi Apá will take over what used to be a deli, he said, and the city of Alachua has sped up the process of switching ownership by expediting permits.

“They want a place like ours in town,” he said.

Aurora Ynigo, an employee and the owner’s wife, said Mi Apá will hire some Alachua residents and Santa Fe College students from the Alachua campus, and it will transfer some staff members who are being trained at the Gainesville location.

Roxana Rodriguez, a 22-year-old biology senior who works as a waitress at Mi Apá, said the prospect of transferring to the new location — about 18 miles from the Gainesville restaurant — wouldn’t be a big deal, because she’s used to commuting in her hometown.

“I’m from Miami, and everything is really far,” she said.

Sheryll Dean, general manager of the Gainesville location, said she expects Mi Apá favorites, especially the roast pork entree and the chicken and rice plate, to be big hits in Alachua.

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Some customers already drive from Alachua to eat at Mi Apá, she said, and others return daily to enjoy their favorite coffee or dish.

She said she’s excited to expand because customers have told her they appreciate getting meals that taste like Latin home-cooking in a friendly environment.

“It’s like coming home,” she said.

Patrons Tammy Bernard, left, and Jenny Lee, right, eat a meal outside Mi Apa Latin Cafe on 34th Street. The cafe will open a second location Monday in Alachua at 15634 NW Highway 441.

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