UNIVERSITY PARK -- It's not uncommon for Latin American neighbors to congregate at Maemi on a Monday afternoon. After all, in Peruvian culture, a few spoonfuls of fresh ceviche can knock out a hangover better than any 'ol bloody mary.
"On Sunday they all drink. On Monday they come in," said co-owner Masa Ganaja.
In August 2012, Ganaja, and his cousin, Jorge Nagahama, opened the cozy neighborhood hangout at 3482 17th St. in Sarasota.
Now the cousins are bringing a more upscale version to University Park. Another Maemi will open Sept. 12 at 8196 Tourist Center Drive, a space formerly occupied by Krispy Arepas.
"Before I would have opened one in St. Armands or in Siesta, but with the new mall coming soon and with the 2017 (rowing championship) event, there's a lot in that area and it's totally different than this location," said Nagahama, 34. The 17th Street location in Sarasota "is more local for the local people. Over there it's hip."
The new Maemi's menu will feature all the Peruvian hits: ceviche (raw fish and shellfish marinated in lime juice, onion and peppers), lomo saltado (beef sauted with onions and tomatoes), jalea mixta (fish and seafood with onions, tomatoes and corn). But half the menu will incorporate traditional Japanese fare (tempura, miso soup, ramen) and Peruvian sushi, a twist on the traditional sushi roll using Peruvian sauces in the filling.
"In Peru, there's a lot of Spanish, French, Japanese, Chinese people," said Ganaja, 47. "They mix. That's why in our food we have soy sauce."
Ganaja hopes to begin selling beer from Darwin's on 4th, a Peruvian brewery in Sarasota, within two months of opening in University Park.
The new Maemi's 80-seat dining room will be twice as large as its sister location, which only has room for 30 seats. Portions in University Park will be smaller and the presentation of food will be more upscale to cater to the area's higher-end clientele.
Ganaja owned another Maemi restaurant on Main Street in Sarasota, but closed it in June 2013 after merging with Sangria Tapas Bar and reopening as Jalea, a fusion of Peruvian and Spanish flavors. The collaboration, spearheaded by Dutch restaurateur Ambrish Piare, didn't last long. Jalea closed in May.
Ganaja, who came to the United States from Peru seven years ago, says he is in the process of inking deals for more Maemi restaurants. His dream is to own nearly 20 across the state.
Maemi in University Park will be open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @sabrinarocco.