LA GRANGE – Hoping to make money to pay for college, Leslie Schamber opened a vintage clothing stand in 2010 at the Randolph Street Market in Chicago.
On the first Saturday, shoppers walked by and looked at the skirts and shirts she had bought at thrift stores and restored, but she made $50. That evening, her brother, Eric, decided to make empanadas – a pastry stuffed with meat, cheese or other fillings common in the siblings’ native Argentina – and he offered them to customers who bought something the next day. That Sunday, Leslie made $350.
In February 2012, Leslie, Eric and their brothers Alan and Kevin opened the first EmpanadUS location in Riverside. They soon will open a second location at 22 W. Calendar, former home of Cafe 36, which closed in 2009. The siblings are targeting June 17 for their opening date but might open sooner.
“La Grange is a great place with lots of restaurants, and we think people would love to have a little addition to the food diversity in the area,” owner Kevin Schamber said in an email.
EmpanadUS offers an array of empanadas, including beef, corn, chicken, spinach, ham, caprese and onions. Along with the stuffed snacks, the store’s owners brought a determination for an improved life when they moved to the United States., starting in 2002.
“We are a family from Argentina that has gone through a number of pretty bad economic crises and deeply unstable political and social conditions,” Kevin Schamber wrote. “We’ve been robbed a few times, once at gunpoint, and long story short, we basically became fed up with the insecurity and uncertainty in the country, and we decided to immigrate in hopes of a better, safer and more certain life.
“The conditions in Argentina – the economy and a paralyzed construction industry – forced our parents, even though they are skilled Architects, to look for alternative ways to survive and bring up the family. Throughout the years they developed a few businesses, some more successful than others, and that entrepreneurial spirit has been passed along to us.”
EmpanadUS will be open Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.