Bakery Goes Big With Empanadas And Sweet Latin Treats

By Nikki Delamotte
Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) After perfecting their traditional empanadas, an Ohio couple tried out new twists, like pulled pork, seafood, pizza and veggie varieties. They now serve more than a dozen styles of empanadas as well as pastries at their bustling catering and take out shop.

CLEVELAND, Ohio

It started with simple beef and chicken empanadas. Husband-and-wife chef duo Lyz Otero and Gerson Velasquez had just begun dabbling with the idea of their own Latin food business in 2015. As alumni of some of Cleveland’s top restaurants — both working under Zack Bruell, and Otero under Michael Symon — they were ready to tap into their roots.

“A few months after we started, we decided to go big with the empanadas,” Velasquez says. Half Moon Bakery — a name that references the shape of the Latin staple — was born.

Three years in, they’ve been building the operation through catering and a takeout shop at 3460 West 25th St., across from MetroHealths Main Campus, which they hope to have open by April. Half Moon also makes regular appearances at pop-ups, such as at Ohio City’s Forest City Shuffleboard at 4506 Lorain Ave., where they’ll be the featured vendors throughout February.

Empanadas were a treat they were raised on. Otero learned her way around the kitchen at 7 years old as the daughter of a culinary instructor in Puerto Rico. Velasquez grew up in Guatemala, where his mother worked in catering.

After perfecting their traditional empanadas, they tried out new twists, like pulled pork, seafood, pizza and veggie varieties.

They now serve more than a dozen styles of empanadas as well as pastries. Their Argentinian empanada comes open-stuffed with ground beef, dry cabbage slaw, fresh tomato and garlic aioli sauce. A gluten-free Columbiana empanada is built with chicken, potatoes and fresh cilantro.

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