MERIDEN — Before the pandemic, Frida Cano was working at an Amazon warehouse in Wallingford, not knowing that by the end of 2021 there would be a major change for her and her family.
Cano, 25, is the owner of the recently-opened Viva la Vida, a restaurant located at 1140 E. Main St., in the former home of Mi Puebla Mexican Cuisine.
Cano’s family knew the owners of Mi Puebla, who contacted her and said they were looking to sell the business.
Cano was initially hesitant but eventually decided to buy the business because she felt she, her mother and brother would make a great team.
Although she became the official owner of the business at the beginning of December, her family had been training with the former owner for about a month prior.
Prior to Viva la Vida’s opening on Dec. 18, Cano said her family and friends helped give the restaurant a fresh look, including painting, and decorating.
The interior is a tribute to Frida Kahlo, a prominent Mexican painter. It has a portrait of Kahlo and a poster of her last painting. The restaurant was named after that painting, which includes the Spanish phrase “Viva la Vida.”
The menu offers a variety of loaded french fries, burrito bowls, huaraches and quesadillas with homemade tortilla.
For Cano, running the restaurant is “exciting,” she said.
“I love seeing the families gather here and enjoying our food, getting positive feedback from them,” Cano said.
Cano along with her brother and mother have always cooked for the family.
“My mom is especially known for her tamales,” Cano said.
Cano said they always wanted to own a restaurant but were not expecting it to happen so quickly.
“It is a dream come true,” she said. “We came to the U.S. with very little, close to nothing, and to know how far we’ve come now is just a huge success for us.”
The family moved to the U.S. from Mexico in 2003, when Cano was seven years old.
Cano’s brother, Yael Cano, said that seeing his family run the restaurant is “surreal.”
“We are excited to be serving our community in Meriden and letting them have a taste of what we love to do,” he said.
Rocio Torres, of Wallingford, complimented Cano’s mother, Clafira Pacheco, on her cooking as he waited for a lunch order recently.
“She's a good person, everytime I come she treats me well,” Torres said.
The restaurant is open Monday 12 to 6 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For more information about Viva la Vida, call 203-440-4114.