Ana Borrajo of Sapna Cafe, Part One

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After the sad closing of Lola Tapas, we learned that no restaurant, no matter how amazing, is immune from a bad economy. That's why we were relieved to find that despite the economic downturn Ana Borrajo, Chef and owner of Sapna Cafe remains optimistic about the future.

And this is a great news, because Phoenix loves Sapna Cafe.

There's no doubt that the simple menu Ana offers based on her extensive travels through Europe and Asia is a winner with Phoenicians. Simply google Sapna and you will find rave reviews and accolades from regular folk and food critics alike.

We had a chance to check in with Ana and catch up on what it's been like surviving the economy and what she's up to when she's not at the restaurant.

How has Grand Ave. been treating you? It's good, but I am a bit disappointed because when I thought about opening a restaurant here on Grand Ave., there were a lot of expectations for this area. There were going to be condos and a lot of development. When the economy went down, all of those plans stopped. But it's still OK and I think it's going to get better.

Are there things you've changed about the menu or the restaurant to combat the economy?
Yes, I've started making lunch boxes that are easy to pick up and take to work. They have an entree, a salad, fruit or a cookie. I'm not delivering yet, but people can order order them by phone or fax and then pick them up. Also, I have created the Sapna cash. So when you spend $20 you will get $2 that you can spend at the restaurant. I'm working with Blueberry Deluxe and Butter Toast where if you spend $10 in their store, you will get $2 in Sapna Cash to spend here.

What a great idea. How did you come up with Sapna Cash?

Well, I have a friend who works in marketing and she gave me the idea for some kind of coupon that could work with other small businesses.

When you get a chance to go out to eat, where do you go? Well, I really liked Lola Tapas. You know, I'm Spanish, so I love to eat Spanish food. I am so sad that they are closed. It was a real shock, I think.

What is your favorite dish to prepare in the cafe? I really like making homemade pasta. And I really like being spontaneous with my cooking for my regular customers. I want my regulars to feel like they are at home, so I ask them what they're in the mood for, I look in the refrigerator and make something up.

What are your favorite specials lately? Pasta for sure. But now that Lola is closed, I'm trying to make more Spanish foods, like Tortilla de Patata and I especially like making the Paella that I grew up with.

Tomorrow we'll continue our conversation with Ana Borraja and on Thursday, Ana will share a traditional Spanish recipe that will help keep us cool through the summer months.

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