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A new era for historic home swallowed up by the convention center

Casa 501 has witnessed a neighborhood transformation over the decades

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Merida, Yucatan — The city’s third Hermana República has opened in a historic home that was integrated into the International Convention Center.

The restaurant and craft brewery’s newest branch is in a grand renovated home built on Avenida Colon during the Porfirio Díaz era. Its claim to fame: it was once home to Mexican writer Juan Villoro’s grandparents.

Villoro’s mother, noted psychoanalyst Estrela Ruiz Milan, remembers the house in her childhood. It was built to “last 500 years,” said Ruiz Milan, who is now in her 80s and lives in Mexico City.

When she was born, the home stood in a bucolic neighborhood where the city ended and rural space began.

But since, the home has witnessed presidential visits, hurricanes and the modernization and commercialization of the neighborhood.

The nearly century-old Casa 501, as it was called, was a family home until 2012. It was acquired by a private developer in August 2015, and then it was flipped to the state government two months later.

Originally, the house was planned as a gift shop for conventioneers, but the current administration decided to lease it to an outside entrepreneur, according to La Jornada Maya.

Its border walls were torn down to integrate the home and the modern new International Convention Center next door. Its exterior was changed from yellow to blue.

The restaurant’s mid-December grand opening included more than 300 guests. Mayor Renán Barrera Concha cut the ribbon.

Most of the original architecture has been maintained, with design elements — henequen, stone walls and photographs of old Mérida — to indicate the region’s character to visitors. In the courtyard, a DJ plays music on weekends.

The menu was created by chef Alex Méndez to marry with their Patito craft beers. Among its main dishes are tostones with vaca frita, a Cuban shredded skirt steak topped with xcatic chile mayonnaise.

Hermana Republica’s original branch is on the Merida-Progreso highway in Xcanatun. The Centro location on Calle 64, between 55 and 57, soon followed, opening in an abandoned home.

Source: La Jornada Maya, Diario de Yucatan

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