MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Fans of south-of-the-border fare can breathe easier now that the south Minneapolis space that was occupied for nearly a half century by Pepito’s will soon be held by El Burrito Mercado.

The deal was announced Thursday morning.

“My wife and I had our first date at Pepito’s,” investor Ward Johnson said. “And fittingly in 2001 it’s where I proposed.”

Ward and Eddie Landenberger said they plan on doing an extensive remodel, including the neighboring Parkway Theater.

But for the other side of the property, they said they wanted another family-owned, neighborhood institution to reside where Pepito’s did up until its closure at the end of December.

El Burrito Mercado has been a fixture in St. Paul’s West Side for 36 years. The owners said they plan on bringing over to Minneapolis the same things that made the St. Paul location beloved, including its take-out deli and tamale-making classes.

Minjares, whose decision to close Pepito’s came after his battle with illness and a struggle to keep up with the taxes, said it has been “bittersweet” to hand over the reins.

“I feel like I’m leaving things in good hands, and there’s a bit of serendipity to be handing over the reins of the restaurant to another family-owned Mexican restaurant with a long history in the Twin Cities,” he said.

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