Argentinian brothers Michael and Alex "Marco" Mendez are announcing the opening of a second Mmoon Empanadas location in Los Gatos in May after the successful launch of their first restaurant in San Jose.
And they have chosen a great spot in town, the empty retail space available next to , 81 W. Main St.
The bilingual brothers, who immigrated from Buenos Aires in 1978, are busy getting ready for their kick-off probably the third week in May or the first week in June, they said, adding that they're still working out their operating permits with the Los Gatos Planning Department and the Santa Clara County Health Department.
"We were looking for a community with a small-town feel, that had a lot of foot traffic and that was sort of a destination with a cross-cultural feel and we felt that Los Gatos was the answer," said co-owner Michael Mendez, 52.
The brothers said they were pleasantly surprised when they queried a broad selection of town residents on their knowledge of the stuffed baked or fried bread that's so popular in Latin America and they knew what the food was.
"It's interesting to see how when you have a more diverse community you actually have people who kind of know what they are," Michael Mendez said.
The other Mmoon Empanadas location is in downtown San Jose’s historic San Pedro Square at 177 W. Santa Clara St. It was opened in September of 2010.
The brothers said it's become a popular destination for a quick lunch or pre-Sharks game meal.
The eatery features an assortment of gourmet artisanal empanadas, fresh salads, glutten-free chips, health bars, homemade dressings and sauces (including their signature blended churri sauce – a secret family recipe spanning four generations).
While the restaurant will not serve beer or wine like it does at its other location, it will be offering what the brothers call a "gourmet, quick-service concept street food."
The casual eatery will also offer catering, delivery and take and bake and showcase a new empanada every six weeks. For example, their newest creation is a maccaroni and cheese empanada.
And even though the brothers' tios (uncles) and primos (cousins) from Argentina roll their eyes at the Americanized version of the food item and scream, "¿Cómo puede ser, no sós argentino? (How can this be, are you not Argentinian?), it's sold 30,000 of them at the San Jose store, Michael Mendez said.
The mac-and-cheese-filled pastry is the fourth most popular empanada made by the Mendez brothers, who grew up eating the traditional beef-filled pastries, empanadas de carne (beef) and empanadas de queso y cebolla (cheese and onions).
The business builds its clientele by offering promotional lunches to corporate clients giving away 12 empanadas and four salads for free. After they try them, businesses like Apple and Cisco are hooked, Michael Mendez said.