Afro-Latin Fusion Restaurant ‘Papi Cuisine’ Opens at 2 East Wells

| April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

Afro-Latin fusion restaurant Papi Cuisine has opened at 2 East Wells in South Baltimore. Papi Cuisine is currently in a soft opening with just carry-out at the moment, but plans to open its dining room in the next few weeks. Papi Cuisine, which is relocating from Fells Point, is moving into a 3,600 sq. ft. space vacated by Minnow and The Hot Dry.

Papi Cuisine has been around since 2014, starting as a catering, pop-up, and private dining company based out of a commercial kitchen before opening its 900 sq. ft. restaurant last year at 1928 Fleet St. It is a concept from longtime Baltimore friends Alex Perez and Berry Clark. Perez, who heads up the food side of the business, has a Dominican father and an African American mother. His father taught him to cook foods from the Dominican Republic when he was just 10, and he also learned from his grandmother on his mother’s side. This inspired Papi’s menu which is a fusion of Latin American and Caribbean flavors as well as Southern American, French, and Italian dishes.

Perez, who now has more than 181,000 Instagram followers, began posting his food pictures on the social media site before his friends convinced him to start selling his dishes. He began selling plates and launching his business, while studying every aspect of Instagram trends and analytics to boost his page. He analyzed which of his posts were doing well, how to take photos and what angles to use, and how to make posts go viral, and then followers started flowing in. This strategy was also transferred to Papi Cuisine’s Instagram page which now has more than 80,000 followers.

Perez said customers who have followed him on Instagram have flown in from all over the country and Europe to try his dishes. The Fells Point location became a difficult place to get a seat, and carry-out orders also caused a lot of traffic and double parking in the neighborhood. Papi Cuisine had to rent a second restaurant space at 1733 Eastern Ave. to handle all the orders and to store food.

Perez said the relocation to South Baltimore was done to get a lot more space and dedicated parking. The new restaurant will be almost four times as big and has 25 parking spaces in the 2 East Wells garage. He noted the limited space at Fells Point led to his team only using a third of the menu and eliminating brunch.

Popular items at Papi Cuisine include the stuffed salmon, honey-jerk lamb chops, and crab cake egg rolls. Perez says he will add more pasta dishes like a rasta pasta and seafood alfredo, as well as vegan items, soups, and salads.

The bar will have signature cocktails, wines and champagne on tap, bottled beer, and an extensive collection of bourbons and tequilas.

Papi Cuisine is open Monday to Thursday from 12pm to 11pm, Friday and Saturday from 12pm to 12am, and Sunday from 11am to 9pm.

When the dining room opens at 2 East Wells, Perez said he and Clark will monitor the demand on the kitchen to see if they can handle carry-out orders too. The dining room will seat 140 and Perez expects reservations to fill up quickly when they become available.

Perez said they are currently figuring out what to do with the two spaces they lease in Fells Point. He is thinking about opening a health food concept or a more casual concept focused around the popular crab cake egg rolls.

Perez and Clark hope to open additional Papi Cuisine locations in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and maybe even the United Kingdom in the future, but first hope to get a good system down in South Baltimore. Real estate professionals have been trying to lure the duo to different locations after seeing its popularity, said Perez.

Perez said the popularity of Papi Cuisine gives him great pride as someone who grew up in East Baltimore. “With the struggles I’ve been through, it makes me very proud for someone from thousands of miles away to take interest in what I’m doing.”

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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