Local trio cooking up plans for an Ethiopian restaurant in Rochester

Mar. 23—ROCHESTER — A group of entrepreneurs want to bring a taste of Ethiopia and its culture to Rochester this summer.

Lily Fersha, Teddy Tamire and Getahun Tebeka with the help of Martha Yiglletu are working on a plan to open an unnamed restaurant to serve Ethiopian cuisine and American fare. They have signed a lease for a spot at 844 South Broadway in the Soldier Field Plaza complex.

Renovation work has started in the restaurant space, which last housed the

Hunan Chinese Restaurant.

That restaurant

closed in early 2022

due to "health and safety hazards."

"When we're done (renovating), it will be like a brand new restaurant," said Tamire.

If everything goes as planned, the restaurant is expected to have a name and open its doors this summer. It is expected to seat 80 customers as well as having a private dining area for special events. The trio estimate that they along with about seven to eight employees will staff the restaurant.

Tebeka hopes Minnesotans won't let preconceived ideas about Ethiopian food keep from trying it.

"When you say Ethiopian food, people think it is spicy, but it is not. We have many different varieties of dishes," he said.

Yiglletu explained that more than 80 ethnic groups live in Ethiopia and each have their own flavors and specialities.

"When you come from the biggest cities, you want a taste that is the blend of everything. We want to show Rochester that we have those diverse communities and introduce the city to those special cultural flavors," she said.

In addition to the cuisine of Ethiopia, they are also excited to introduce Rochester to their coffee ceremony, which can bring strangers together for a relaxed conversation.

The idea for the restaurant started with Yiglletu and others serving Ethiopian food at special events like Rochester's

Night Market

and the

Village Farmers Market.

Enthusiastic customers bought out their stand at the Night Market and encouraged the idea of adding an Ethiopian food to Rochester's restaurant offerings.

The group acknowledges that navigating the tricky process of opening a restaurant is challenging, particularly while they continue to work their day jobs. However, they are very hopeful that their hard work will make their vision a reality.

"We don't have the experience in the market, but we have the passion. This is our dream," said Tamire.