OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — For two years customers were able to get authentic Venezuelan food at the Switch. El Arepon was one of the first food vendors you'd see when you'd walk into the food hall on Farnam in the Blackstone District.
But customers now have to drive to Bellevue for their arepas, empanadas and tequeños. That wasn't owner Richard Mendoza's plan.
"I was hoping to have two locations," Mendoza said.
His Bellevue location, on West 23rd Avenue had been in the works for about a year. He had wanted to open it sometime later this summer, while still operating out of The Switch, a way to get more income while setting up his dream.
In June, that plan quickly shifted though, when he, along with the other restaurants operating out of The Switch, were informed their leases would not be renewed and they had just three weeks to be out.
"It was very surprising, it was shocking the news. I wasn’t expecting them to close like that," Mendoza said. "I wasn’t ready to open Bellevue, but we’ve been working and fixing things as we go. The first week when we opened we didn’t have a fryer so it was hard to operate without the full kitchen equipment ... but we make it work."
The space where El Arepon once served its food is now covered in sawdust, ladders and power tools, under renovation by a new group. The Switch made a switch of its own, opting for new branding as "Kamp."
Kamp is owned by Extra Credit Group, comprised of four industry professionals. The group was not responsible for the transition or for telling the old tenants they had to move out. That was handled by GreenSlate, who did not reply to 3 News Now's request for comment.
The Extra Credit Group is currently renovating the space and hoping to open this fall. It's a similar concept to what once stood before it.
"We will have four different food concepts in here; they’re all going to be owned and operated by us. The way The Switch operated, you have the different pop-ups coming up, you had individual food owners. All the [new] food concepts are developed by us, from branding to the menu," Jake Dawson, Extra Credit Group's Creative Director, said.
The four had already wanted to open and develop something together, so when the space on Farnam became available, they were excited.
"This provided a venue to have a sandbox to play around and develop a few things we’ve been wanting to do for a while and didn’t have the space to do it, and now we do," Dawson said.
They're looking forward to continuing to develop and grow in the Blackstone.
"We’re really excited about the prospects this business district has to offer," Dawson said.
Mendoza is excited for what's to come in his space, as well.
"I’d love to have a patio ... so people can have drinks outside and food I would like to have more, I’d say, grow my menu and drinks and make the atmosphere more welcoming," Mendoza said. "I’d love when people come to eat at El Arepon they forget about anything that goes through their mind I want them to relax."