Venezuelan Arepas Made With Love In Canada
In 2020, Carla and Maria combined their knowledge and previous experiences to become entrepreneurs. Arepa Ink was born from the love these two friends have for their home country Venezuela, their signature most iconic dish, the arepa, and the excitement it brought them to share their culture with their new country, Canada. Thanks to the ShopHERE Program's collaboration, Arepa Ink has gone online and customers can order directly from the website. Now the owners can promote arepas not just in London, Ontario-where their business is based, but with the world.
The reason behind choosing London as Arepa Ink's headquarters was because of the city's diverse population that is always looking for bold, extraordinary, and unique food experiences. Arepas are a healthy, affordable meal for students and families. They can be enjoyed at any time, making them a great addition to any course or as a stand-alone dish.
Arepas, made from pre-cooked cornmeal and stuffed with different ingredients, are a Venezuelan flagship. However, Carla and Maria wanted to give their products a unique twist. That's why the dough from their arepas is injected with vegetable “ink” to give it a unique flavour and adds some more nutrients to an already healthy and gluten-free meal. The three base ink flavours are squash (yellow), beets (magenta) and spinach (green).
“The Arepa is, to Venezuela, as the bagel is to Canada! “
After many years of cooking arepas in their homes and sharing them with friends and neighbours, Carla and Maria have created different stuffings for all tastes. At Arepa Ink, you can find: vegetarian options, a variety of meat types, or even regular arepas filled with cheese. The idea behind the varied menu is to assemble the arepas to suit any dietary need. Fun fact, the names of some arepas on the menu are based on Carla and Maria's daughters: Sofía, Marcela, Camila and Luciana, and they have even created a unique arepa with a Canadian spin (with maple syrup and bacon).
In 2020, Carla and Maria were ready to take the next step for their business and start a digital transformation. That's why they applied to the ShopHERE Powered by Google Program, where they were paired with Tina and Kathryn to help them set up a website that allowed online ordering. The process, as described by Carla, was easy and quick. Now, they have the knowledge, resources and tools to move forward. Thanks to the new website, most of the orders received at Arepa Ink come from online sources.
“I think ShopHERE is an incredible program for new businesses that enables them to get online with complete support.”
If you are a lover of salty, sweet, crunchy, fluffy, party-in-your-mouth flavours and textures, you must try an arepa by Arepa Ink. Carla and Maria hope to make arepas part of the Canadian culture, and make all of their customers Arepa Lovers. The next time you visit London or if you live nearby, take a gastronomical adventure and try some delicious Venezuelan arepas. Visit Arepa Ink's website here.
If you are a small business or know someone interested in learning more about the ShopHERE Program and how to apply, click here. To learn more about Digital Main Street and how it is helping local businesses survive the pandemic, click here.
Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Microsoft, Facebook, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, Yellow Pages and Lightspeed.
A $42.5-million investment from FedDev Ontario brought together the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Communitech, Invest Ottawa and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association to expand the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses going digital as a response to the impacts of COVID-19 in Southern Ontario.