Arandas is known for its lively atmosphere and delectable Mexican cuisine.
It was recently hit hard by flooding, but the owners have stayed strong in the face of adversity.
90 percent of Aranda’s inventory was lost just three weeks shy of opening their restaurant on Montpelier’s Main Street.
“All the kitchen, fridges, freezers, ovens, stoves, everything. We had to rip all the walls, so that is rebuilt, and all the wood cabinets, so that is rebuilt also,” says Lu Thomas, owner of Arandas Mexican Cuisine.
Thomas also expresses her frustration with accessing federal disaster assistance from FEMA. Thomas says the countless documents the Agency needed to verify relief assistance only delayed the restaurant’s progress.
In addition, fifteen of Arandas employees’ houses in Barre were also destroyed by the floods.
However, employees ‘were still committed to working every single hour of the day to get the restaurant back in business.
“They said ‘no, no, no we are working, we are a team, we have to work hard’ and so we have to pay them because they have to live,” said Thomas.
The restaurant’s revival is not solely the result of its dedicated staff. The community has rallied behind Arandas, offering a helping hand in cleanup and recovery efforts.
Arandas received a number of grants and donations from generous community members, cleanup help from Montpelier Alive, and borrowed inventory from fellow vendors.
Thomas says, “People came here to give us money to buy more equipment and a lot of stuff that really, really helped us.”
Much of the donations are being used to pay employees for kitchen equipment that needs to still be replaced.
Thomas emphasizes her unwavering gratitude towards the city of Montpelier.
She says she is not only rebuilding a restaurant, but also a symbol of community and culture.
“I think these kinds of events will help us be stronger. As a business, as people, we are more close together and a community,” says Thomas.
Arandas will be giving out 50 percent discounts to Montpelier cleanup crew and businesses still getting back on their feet.