Eatery owners to keep the ‘La Medina’ brand

MILFORD – Restauranteur and talent booker Rachel Barnard apparently looks good in hats.

She wears enough of them.

Her latest gig is reinventing La Medina restaurant in the Milford Oval.

“I have been friends with Jorge Arrunategui for a number of years,” said Barnard. “I think he came up with a great concept and believe that he definitely put his thumbprint on this space in particular. It feels like Jorge’s space when you come in here and I really like that. There wasn’t anything that needed to be changed. Everything that he created was beautiful. The only thing we added was plants.”

According to Barnard, Arrunategui decided to pursue other business ventures, and that gave her the nod to reimagine his former restaurant.

“I think Jorge’s goal was to create a business,” she said. “And that’s what he did.”

“We’re working towards bringing in products and ingredients that are sustainable and organic, as much as we can,” Barnard continued. “It’s not a completely organic menu, but that’s what we’re shooting for. And all our seafood is line-caught, sustainable seafood. Our wines that we are presenting and using are grown from sustainable vineyards from all over the world.”

Barnard also said that the restaurant will utilize plant based and biodegradable plastics.

“We want to teach employees that come through here, that there are better options,” she said. “It may be more costly as we start off, and it may limit what we can do, but our goal is to be forward thinking.”

The menu will include item such as a Peruvian ceviche and unique charcuterie boards and housemade hummus.

“There will be tagines, and curries, Pallela and three different styles of mussels on the menu,” Barnard said, will don her chef garb and do the honors.

“I’m excited,” she said. “It’s a lot of responsibility to ensure that we’re successful. It’s a family business venture; there are multiple people in my family who are dependent on this working.”

Barnard’s mom Marsha Rich is her business partner.

“My aunt also helped us over the threshold, in terms of being able to do this,” said Barnard. “I need to send my daughter to college. And I need to help retire my mom.”

Barnards the famous space will provide a lot of traffic, from the cultured to the curious.

“I think we’ll get a lot of foot traffic being on the Milford oval,” she said. “And I think a lot of our daytime business, more than a lunch business, but daytime business will probably be to-go items that we’ll sell out of our case. Different salads and side dishes, and roasts, and prepared item that people can take home and put together for dinner.”

Currently that concept is barely a blip on the oval and Barnard is out to change that.

The space inside is approved for 35 seats. Barnard said they’ve actually removed some of the original seats to make it easier for guests.

“I’d rather have my guests be able to stretch out their legs a bit,” she said. “I’d rather have them be comfortable, that just add another check to the table.”

Barnard hopes to open within the next two weeks. They already have their liquor licenses and last Wednesday got the green light from the health deparmtne.t

“Last week was such a productive week,’ she added. “And my mom has been incredible She’s been working so hard right now. She’s kept her fulltime job a Think Kitchen in Merrimack, because she has benefits there and we can’t expect the restaurant to sustain two fulltime salaries and be able to cover our employees’ payroll just yet.”

Barnard is still hiring for a daytime and an evening shift in the kitchen. And La Medina will be opened Tuesday through Sunday, with brunch only on Sunday.

So, does she think La Medina will take a bite out of local eateries or simply take a page?

“I think we’ll offer something that’s uniquely different,” she said. “I hear people when I’m out in the oval and they say, ‘what haven’t we tried?’ This is something that’s going to be a niche for folks who want those world flavors that you really can’t get or are not offered all over Milford.

Barnard is also anxious to maintain the La Medina brand.

“I love the branding, I love the logo work,” she said. “I love everything about it. It all looks very tasteful and classy. And this year we’ll be visible at the Deerfield Fair with a Pallela station, and we’ll be in front for Pumpkinfest.

“We’ve taken a brand that someone created well,” said Barnard. “And we’re expanding it.”