Candela Arepa Bar LLC

Candela will be an Arepa Bar situated in the heart of Station North Arts District and right across from the new Penn Station passenger terminal. We cannot think of a more ideal location.

Arepas are Venezuelan gluten-free crispy corn patties whose popularity is rapidly spreading all over the world. Irena Stein, Candela’s co-founder, just published the first comprehensive cookbook on arepas, titled “Arepa, classic and contemporary recipes for Venezuela’s daily bread.”
Arepa Bars in Venezuela are the most democratic of eateries. People from all walks of life gather to enjoy their favorite arepas at all times of day or night. Arepa Bars are now found all over the world. They are multiplying at a very fast pace.
The Candela menu will include approximately 12 varied arepas including seafood, meat, chicken, vegetarian and vegan.  Additionally, guests will be able to make their own creations by combining the available ingredients into their arepa masterpiece. Other menu items will include: empanadas, cachapas, natural house-made beverages, alcoholic beverages, sodas, coffee and tea.
  • #Community
$75,850 funds committed
of $124,000 maximum target
$25K minimum

Investment Summary

Promissory Note




*See Offering & Form C sections below for disclosures



Form C


Interior renderings of Candela Arepa Bar
Exterior view & floor plan of Candela Arepa Bar

Investment Perks

  1. $1,250

    Level 1

    Signed & personalized copy of Arepa book by Irena Stein

  2. $5,000

    Level 2

    Signed & personalized copy of Arepa book by Irena Stein. “How to Make an Arepa” party and dinner for 10 including tropical cocktail pairing.

  3. $12,000

    Level 3

    Signed & personalized copy of Arepa book by Irena Stein. Three course dinner for 8 at Alma. Dinner curated by Alma Executive Chef Hector Romero.

  4. $24,000

    Level 4

    Signed & personalized copy of Arepa book by Irena Stein. Four course dinner for 12, including wine pairing, at Alma. Dinner curated by Alma Executive Chef Hector Romero.

All campaigns are minimum or nothing; Candela Arepa Bar LLC will only receive funding if the minimum goal is reached.

Key Facts & Financials

  • Candela is an Arepa Bar in Station North Arts District. Arepas are Venezuela’s daily bread. They are eaten all times of the day and night. Arepa Bars are the most democratic of eateries. Arepas are delicious, inexpensive and nutritious.

Candela Arepa Bar LLC Story

The first arepas in Baltimore were made back in 2004 at Café Azafrán, Irena Stein's first café located at the Space Telescope Science Institute on the Johns Hopkins University Homewood Campus. When served on occasion as a menu special, arepas would sell out in half an hour no matter how many were made that day and people always requested that we make them more often. The euphoria, response, feedback and excitement were such that we created Alma Cocina Latina in 2015 for people to enjoy arepas and much more on a daily basis.

Alma since then has received numerous accolades, awards, and articles in magazines and newspapers all over the country as noted in the Press page on our website:
In September 2020, Alma moved from Canton to Station North. The neighborhood of this Arts District adopted us with full love and support. And we love our neighborhood.

To share the arepa with the world, Irena Stein wrote the first comprehensive Arepa recipe cookbook titled Arepa, Classic and Contemporary Recipes for Venezuela’s Daily Bread. It was published in late July 2023 and is distributed by Simon and Schuster. The front cover has her name, and under it, Alma’s name and the city of Baltimore, our home.
While completing the writing of the book at the end of 2022, the retail space on East Lanvale Street next to our restaurant Alma became available. We asked our landlords if they would let us build an arepa bar there, and they enthusiastically agreed and here we are!

The Founders

Irena Stein

Owner & Founder

Irena Stein landed in the States as a Fulbright Scholar to Stanford. She completed her Master in Cultural Anthropology and continued on a number of artistic and cultural paths eventually landing in Baltimore as jeweler. As the jewelry market changed she decided she had to reinvent herself. Loving food and being an excellent cook she began a catering company and formed Azafrán LLC. On 25 September 2004, she launched Café Azafrán at the Space Telescope Science Institute, located at the Johns Hopkins University Homewood Campus. In 2010 Gilman Hall, the first building on the Homewood Campus, opened after a complete renovation and Irena was asked to open the espresso bar. She called it Alkimia. Never one to sit back, she and Mark, her partner in life and business, opened Alma Cocina Latina in spring of 2015 and it is still going strong.

Mark Demshak


Mark Demshak moved back to Baltimore after completing his Master of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. He was in private practice until he moved to the client side of the business in 2002 as the Campus Architect for UMBC and then the Director of Architecture & Planning for Johns Hopkins University Homewood Campus. There he met Irena while having lunch at Azafrán. He joined Azafrán in 2009 as the business manager putting his Georgetown MBA into practice. Mark and Irena opened Alma Cocina Latina in 2015 to rave reviews and it’s still tempting palates.

The Team

Fernando Bertelsen

Executive Chef

Fernando will be Candela’s executive chef.
Fernando is a Venezuelan chef with international experience: He has worked in Venezuela, Slovenia and Spain.
He has cooked in excellent restaurants, some with Michelin Stars like Hisa Franko, in Slovenia, with 2 Michelan stars, and recently in Kuoco, Madrid, a restaurant mentioned in the Michelin guide, where he was Chef de Partie.
Fernando has a Bachelors in Anthropology from Beihua University in Jilin, China and a Masters in Philosophy from Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. He completed his culinary studies in Venezuela and continues to train since 2017. He has currently joined Alma Cocina Latina as a sous chef while Candela gets built.



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