Maria Piedad Cano, known to most of her fans as The Arepa Lady of Jackson Heights is opening up a restaurant not too far from her usual 79th Street corner. Selling arepas de queso, chocolo (the sweetest of the three) and telas, the Arepa Lady connects with people via her Twitter, letting them know if and when she’ll hit the streets–weather permitting.
Before immigrating from Colombia in the late 80’s, Maria held positions as mayor, city council, judge, civil inspector and more. Despite her impressive resumé, Maria, like many immigrants, couldn’t find work in her field. Desperate to provide for her children, Maria resorted to cooking the staple Colombian food you find on every block back home, even though she had little to no experience as a cook. Since 1990, Maria has been camping out week nights from 8PM and weekends, a little later, serving to the rich, poor, hungry and borrachos (guilty!). Sure, there may be lots places to get arepas in this largely immigrant latino area, and some places you won’t have to wait outside, but no two arepas are the same. Maria is not shy of butter nor cheese, making these fresh off the grill arepas a contender for best in NYC (Caracas Arepas, who?!).
Look out for The Arepa Lady’s permanent location in opening in Spring 2014 and p.s., she’s keeping her cart.
Roosevelt Ave and 79th St
Jackson Heights, NY 11372