Mulata  Kitchen + Coffee in Oak Park, IL

The former owner of the shuttered Taste of Brasil restaurant on South Oak Park Avenue says her new venture at the corner of Oak Park Avenue and Lake Street is set to open in about a month. And she has finally settled on a name: Mulata.

Owner Christiane Pereira acknowledged that the new name is the Spanish version of the word mulatto — which has sometimes been used in a derogatory fashion to describe a person of mixed race.

While that might be offensive to some, that’s not how she sees it, and that’s not the way it’s used in her native Brazil.

“I wanted something that looks like me, and I’m a mulata,” she said, adding that although the name could be misinterpreted, for her it represents a “beautiful blend.”

“Around the world, mulata expresses how beautiful a woman can be; that’s how I’ve always related to the name mulata,” she said.

She said work continues at the space, 136 N. Oak Park Ave., formerly occupied by Fresko juice bar.

Pereira gave a snapshot of the menu, noting that Mulata will serve coffee, sandwiches, baked empanadas and savory Brazilian-style pies, among other dishes.

Pereira’s former restaurant, Taste of Brasil, 906 S. Oak Park Ave., which she ran with her husband, Andre Otero, closed last August after the owner declined to renew the restaurant’s lease.

She said the new restaurant will feature some of the items offered at Taste of Brasil but will be a new concept with a largely different menu.

The size of the space and its proximity to residential space in the building prevents Pereira from cooking many of the dishes she became known for at Taste of Brasil.

She said family and friends and former Taste of Brasil patrons have been “so loyal and supportive and encouraging — to be honest, that’s what keeps me going.”

“It’s about me serving people and having a good time and providing a space and building a team and doing things that energize me,” she said.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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