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Restaurant will bring a new international flavor to Rosemount

Raisa Prokopenko and her family have been working hard to turn a former Subway sandwich shop into a new Russian restaurant.

Raisa Prokopenko and her family are bringing a little bit of Russia to Rosemount.

With Cafe Raisa, currently taking shape in a space formerly occupied by a Subway sandwich shop, Prokopenko wants to introduce Minnesotans to Russian favorites like cabbage rolls, borsch, pelmeni and vareniki.

Don't worry if none of that sounds familiar. Prokopenko promises the menu will have good descriptions to help people pick out something that appeals to them. Borsch is a cabbage soup. Pelmeni and vareniki are both homemade dumplings, according to a menu on the restaurant's web site. Prokopenko describes the pelmeni as "kind of like ravioli."

"I think everybody likes Russian food, even if they're trying it for the first time," Prokopenko said.

For those who are less adventurous, Prokopenko promises familiar fare like hamburgers and steaks on the menu.

For Prokopenko, Cafe Raisa is a dream come true. She's cooked most of her life and she has worked in restaurants almost since she came to Minnesota from Khazakhstan.

It was tough times that finally pushed Prokopenko to take the leap into business ownership. Her husband lost his job in November, and the family decided to take their financial future into their own hands. They considered opening a store of some kind, but that idea disappeared quickly.

"We like to cook, so a store didn't work for us," Prokopenko said.

The entire family will help operate the restaurant. Prokopenko and her husband have three children.

Prokopenko searched online commercial real estate listings to find the spot in Rosemount that's been vacant since Subway relocated.

The location worked out well in at least one respect. Prokopenko found out after she started working on the space that the dry cleaning business next door is owned by a Russian.

"He's excited, and we're excited we have Russian neighbor," Prokopenko said.

Prokopenko and her family signed a lease in April and they have been busy ever since transforming the space. They've done most of the work themselves.

Progress is sometimes slow, and getting all of the paperwork straightened away can be frustrating but Prokopenko said she's looking forward to getting things up and running. She hopes to have the restaurant open in late June or early July.