Photo courtesy of Hai Hai

Hola Arepa owners unveil Southeast Asian concept in Northeast

Updated: December 4, 2017 - 2:30 pm

The duo found inspiration in street food during a recent trip

The restaurateurs behind Hola Arepa won’t be opening a second location in Northeast Minneapolis, but they are planning a new Southeast Asian street-food concept.

Owners Christina Nguyen and Birk Grudem have revealed their plans for Hai Hai, or “two, two” in Vietnamese, which will go in the former home of 22nd Ave. Station, otherwise known as the Double Deuce.

The duo found inspiration a recent trip to Southeast Asia and food that Nguyen grew up with. The restaurant and bar promises lesser-known regional dishes of Southeast Asia on top of standard Vietnamese dishes like pho and pad thai. Hai Hai will continue Hola Arepa’s legacy with a craft cocktail program featuring tropical drinks.

“During their most recent trips to Southeast Asia, Christina & Birk (the duo behind Hola Arepa) searched down winding streets to find alleyway food oases, followed the smell of charred meats & smoke to the grills they came from, had unforgettable meals at street food stalls next to roaring traffic, went on scavenger hunts for specialties at local markets, pulled up short stools at sidewalk cafés & ordered whatever the people next to them were having. They tried it all so they could bring with them the best dishes & most inspiring flavors for you to enjoy back home,” its website reads.

The two purchased the former dive bar and strip club site late last month. Hai Hai is slated to open this fall at University & 22nd, a corner in the middle of Northeast Minneapolis institutions Jax Café, Gasthof Zur Gemutlichkeit and Grumpy’s Bar.