A path to the property for Las Cuatro Milpas
If by “American Dream” we mean moving from Mexico to the United States as a pre-teen, planting your flag in the Minnesota tundra at age 14, growing up to open a restaurant in an urban area that would soon see riots and destruction, then open another restaurant in the midst of a global pandemic … So yes, Hernandez is living the dream.
Not that he’s complaining. In the weeks following the opening of its third branch in Las Cuatro Milpas, this one in Bloomington – the former is a few blocks from George Floyd Square, the latter in Atlanta, GA run by a family member – the place was filled with both devotees and new fans of his family recipes, and weekends have seen lines come out the door.
As anyone who has ever made their dream come true will tell you, you need a village. Enter Cory McClure, co-owner of Envision Commercial LLC, with his partner Rafik Moore. “As the name suggests, we help tenants imagine being homeowners,” McClure told me.
When the East Lake Street building was put on the market by the original owner in 2018, Hernandez was at risk of losing his lease for the Las Cuatro Milpas space. Hernandez wanted to buy the building but lacked funding, but a win-win situation arose. Hernandez was introduced to McClure through a real estate broker. Envision Commercial bought the building and immediately sold it to Hernandez on a contract-for-deed basis. This meant that Hernandez was managing the building and investing in improvements, thus removing McClure’s task. “In this scenario, we looked more like the bank,” McClure explained.
The duo struck a similar deal with the Bloomington space in June 2020 through McClure’s solo business, McClure Properties LLC. “This place went up for sale, having been an old Chinese restaurant for 37 years,” McClure explained of the space off Highway 494. “I bought it, Hernandez invested in some improvements, made it his own. “
“We were asked to come to Bloomington, there is a large Hispanic community in Bloomington and Richfield,” Hernandez said.
Last month, the young chef who came to Minnesota for better opportunities was able to fully purchase McClure’s Minneapolis and Bloomington buildings, realizing the ultimate dream of ownership and independence. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to accomplish,” Hernandez said proudly, as we were crammed into a four-peaked in a generally busy lunch rush.
Obviously we all benefit from having Las Cuatro Milpas, the four cornfields, about. It was the first restaurant in Minnesota to serve birria tacos, according to Hernandez. Twenty years ago, when Hernandez moved to Minneapolis, the Twin Cities did not have the birria scene that they do now. “I was the first person to bring birria to Minnesota,” Hernandez says. “Birria tacos, quesabirria, nobody had them before.” Hernandez’s pride in this dish, which originated in the state of Jalisco in Mexico, is evident in the restaurant’s nickname, Las Cuatro Milpas Taqueria & Birrieria.
In Mexico, beef, goat, and lamb are the essential protein options, but Hernandez has added chicken to his menu for the American palate. All are equally decadent, but Hernandez’s favorite is the beef, and the man knows his birria. Now, as an independent owner, we just hope it opens more.
Both establishments are open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.