Colombia native Maria Cano is a former judge, but she's better known to late night Queens diners as the Arepa Lady. Her food cart under the 7 train on Roosevelt Avenue is famous for the golden, cheesy, salty-sweet arepas it has been doling out since 1990. But the arepas haven't always been easy to come by: the cart is open only on particular nights, from about 10:30 p.m. to 4 a.m., and only in warm weather.
Until now: Cano and several family members who help out with the business are opening a brick-and-mortar store, due to debut at Roosevelt Avenue and 77th Street next month. We spoke with Cano's son, Alejandro, about the transition to restaurant ownership, and how Maria came to be one of the most beloved vendors in the city.