Pepitos and Parkway Theater Acquired, New Restaurant Tenant Announced

MINNEAPOLIS, MN, February 14, 2018


Pepitos restaurant and the Parkway Theater, two popular institutions located in the Field Regina Northrop neighborhood of South Minneapolis, have been officially acquired and are scheduled to re-open in June 2018. Pepitos Mexican Restaurant, located on the 48th Street block of Chicago Avenue South, enjoyed a long and revered 46 year-run as a fixture in the neighborhood under the ownership of Joe Minjares, who also owned and operated the adjacent Parkway Theater. Due to a serious illness, Minjares had to close Pepitos Restaurant at the end of 2017, though its nearby deli on Nicollet and 46th Street remains.

Enter local investor/entrepreneurs Ward Johnson and Eddie Landenberger, who live in the neighborhood and saw the potential to renovate both the restaurant and theater, in an effort to bring new life into these two establishments. Both Johnson and Landenberger are longtime fans of Pepitos, and Johnson, in particular, has a special connection to Pepitos. “My wife and I had our first date at Pepitos. And fittingly in 2001 it’s where I proposed,” said Johnson.

After an extensive remodel, Johnson and Landenberger will continue to run the theater as a classic/indie movie and live performance venue. “Our goal is to restore the Parkway Theater to its former glory and bring new energy to the space through renovation, curated movie and speaker series, contemporary chamber music and more,” says Landenberger, a veteran of neighborhood redevelopment projects in South Minneapolis.

As for the restaurant, the pair found another family-owned, neighborhood institution to take over operations. El Burrito Mercado, a fixture in St. Paul’s West Side for 36 years, will open El Burrito Minneapolis in the space formerly occupied by Pepito’s. El Burrito Mercado is led and operated by Milissa Silva-Diaz together with her sister and niece, which makes it a 100% women-owned Latina business. Fittingly, according to Silva-Diaz, the bar portion of the restaurant will carry a theme featuring prominent Latina entertainers, artists, and influential women. Like it’s St. Paul counterpart, El Burrito Minneapolis will feature an award-winning menu of authentic Mexican cuisine, a take-out deli, as well as their popular tamale-making classes.

Minjares, for his part, is happy to be handing off the torch to people with deep connections to the neighborhood, and to his restaurant. “It’s bittersweet to say goodbye,” says Minjares. “But I feel like I’m leaving things in good hands, and there’s a bit of serendipity to be handing over the reins of the restaurant to another family-owned Mexican restaurant with a long history in the Twin Cities.”

Plans for the renovation of the Parkway Theater and the opening of El Burrito Minneapolis are pending approval of all necessary plans, permits, and liquor licenses.


Eddie Landenberger, is a commercial real estate developer, broker and property manager with extensive experience serving arts organizations and non-profits in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Eddie currently serves as Vice President at the Land Bank Twin Cities, overseeing acquisitions and property management of a diverse portfolio of urban properties. Prior to the Land Bank, Eddie spent several years as a business broker and economic development project manager developing restaurants and creative arts spaces in Minneapolis. As an active arts patron, he is strongly connected to the local arts community through Kate Nordstrum, his wife and music curator of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series. He has an engineering degree from the University of Minnesota.

Ward Johnson has over 20 years of experience in business operations and entrepreneurship. As owner/CEO, he guided local pet food manufacturer Sojos ( from a one-man operation to a manufacturing leader in natural pet products, until their ultimate acquisition by WellPet, LLC in January of 2016. He currently serves in a mentoring, consulting and investing role for local start-ups and seed stage companies. He attended the University of Minnesota and has a BS with an emphasis on Entrepreneurship and Marketing from the University’s Carlson School of Management.

Milissa Silva-Diaz, a Mexican-American, is a passionate diversity advocate with a vision to unite teams through culture, food and music – while infusing a good measure of business savvy. She is the eldest daughter of immigrant, entrepreneur parents, Tomas and Maria Silva. Milissa is most known for her innovative leadership at El Burrito Mercado, the multi-million dollar Mexican & Latino marketplace & restaurant, which employs over 80 staff members in St. Paul. Before taking on her role as El Burrito Mercado CEO and partner- owner, along with her sister Suzanne and niece Analita, she pursued other experiences which heightened her level of education and professional experiences in areas of private label foods, Latino entertainment promotion, and corporate experiences with companies like Target, Supervalu, and General Mills. Milissa currently serves on the board for Latino Chamber of Commerce and is a current board member of the St. Paul Festival & Heritage Foundation. She was recognized as the 2009 recipient of Minnesota’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce “25 on the Rise”.

2 thoughts on “Pepitos and Parkway Theater Acquired, New Restaurant Tenant Announced

    1. Jenneane Jansen

      LOVE! This was described as less an business sale, and more a “barn raising!” Good for you, dude. I can cook. I can clean. I can lawyer, too, but not sure that that will be of use, in making this move forward. My hubby helped rebuild the two projectors in the theater lobby. And we know an upholsterer who might be willing to look at refinishing those gorgeous seats at at least a reduced price (that’s an expensive undertaking). I’ll think of what else I can contribute.


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