Owners Alejandro and Diana Guerra stand in front of new construction at their restaurant, La Palapa, at 2000 W. 34th Street.

La Palapa Undergoing Major Expansion to Building and Restaurant

Published January 24, 2018

The iconic shark on the rooftop will return along with a fully refurbished and expanded restaurant at La Palapa, the bustling Mexican seafood eatery on Damen Avenue just north of Archer Avenue. The restaurant, which celebrates its 10th anniversary on February 14, is in the midst of a construction overhaul that will eventually grow the building to two stories while retaining its popular Nayarit-style recipes and beachy, casual vibe.

"It was always a struggle with the old facilities," said owner Alejandro "Alex" Guerra. "Now, our customers are going to be comfortable."

La Palapa architects rendering top forwebAn architect's rendering shows the potential top layout of the La Palapa restaurant expansion.The restaurant remains open while construction is underway, Guerra said, with a plan to launch the new facility in stages, starting this year with the first floor and overhauled patio.

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"It's going to be beautiful," Guerra said, and noted the major addition of full restroom facilities and an expanded kitchen. The work this year will lay the foundation of eventual finishing and buildout of the second-floor space, which is planned to have its own dining areas and rooftop patio.

All of this work is entirely self-financed by the family ownership of the restaurant, which includes Guerra and his wife, Diana. "We have been saving for years," Guerra said. "It's our life savings." He added that the family has always wanted to improve the property and restaurant facilities since launching the business 10 years ago.

12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas lauded the expansion, calling it "a critical success for future plans to create a bustling economic and social corridor on Archer. The more active Archer becomes, the more keen the interest of future business developers."

Cardenas noted La Palapa's strong past support for community organizations, including the Omega Delta Baseball league in Hoyne Park. Guerra said it's a priority for their business to connect with the neighborhood. "We have a social responsibility to the community and are doing our best to help," he said.

Once the new site is fully up and running, Guerra anticipates exploring additional features at the restaurant, such as a small-bites menu. Already planned are enhancements to its management and service, and increasing restaurant staffing. Up to 20 new full-time jobs could be created, Guerra said.

La Palapa, which is at 2000 W. 34th St., is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

La Palapa architects rendering front forweb
The potential front design of the expanded La Palapa restaurant shows new seating and the second-story buildout in this architect's rendering.

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