This is the story of a win-win-win situation. And empanadas are involved. Let me explain:

Francisco and Cecilia Cabrera had built a thriving restaurant business over the last decade in Collingswood at their Latin BYOB, El Sitio. Even when the coronavirus hit, they got by, offering takeout food and selling their signature empanadas at the Collingswood Farmers Market. Empanadas, those flaky half-moons of dough surrounding usually savory fillings, were a staple of Francisco Cabrera’s childhood. He was born in Argentina and lived in seven Central and South American countries because his father was an executive with a pharmaceutical company.

In June 2020, the Cabreras began seating customers on their covered patio. But then came the brisk nights of fall. When indoor dining was to resume, the Cabreras learned that they could seat only 16 customers inside. “This really wouldn’t work,” Francisco said.

By now in their mid-60s and with five grandchildren under the age of 4, they decided to downsize and simplify. That meant closing El Sitio and moving an hour away to Hatboro, Montgomery County, near a son’s house.

They wanted to keep a hand in the business, so they leased a former pretzel shop in downtown Hatboro and prepared to turn it into a cafe called Hungry Moon Foods, which happened to have enough room for an empanada machine that could turn out the turnovers in quantity.

At El Sitio’s staff farewell party in November 2020, longtime servers Daniel Esposito, 41, and Jennifer Gleason, 38, started talking.

The coworkers approached the Cabreras with an offer: They would open a business that would be, in effect, a retail arm for the Cabreras. They would sell the Hungry Moon empanadas through pop-ups in the region and work the festival and farmers market circuit.

» READ MORE: Empanada Alley is a new delivery option from Cuba Libre, with a charitable side

“With all of our restaurant experience, we knew we could take over that part,” Esposito said.

They both had professional day jobs, they said, the worst that could happen was that they would be stuck with a couple hundred empanadas and a commercial freezer, should the business not work out.

But how could empanadas fail? Their popularity in the Philadelphia area is solid, fueled by such destinations as Jezabel’s Cafe in West Philadelphia. This week, Cuba Libre in Old City started a delivery-only ghost kitchen called Empanada Alley.

Esposito and Gleason got into the business recently with East Coast Empanadas, with a model featuring Saturday deliveries in South Jersey as well as customer pickup at Esposito’s apartment in Center City Philadelphia. They put up a Google Form on their Instagram and Facebook pages and watched the orders roll in: nearly 1,000 empanadas in the first month. Esposito and Gleason’s revised five-year plan includes a second team to staff multiple farmers markets per weekend, a food truck, a storefront, and potentially, franchise opportunities.

At Hungry Moon, which opened in March at 36 S. York Road in Hatboro, the Cabreras sell a full line of baked empanadas for $3.25 each including cheesesteak, Buffalo chicken, and a vegetarian one with feta and spinach, plus gluten-free fried white corn empanadas filled with beef, carrots, peas, and rice, and fried plantain empanadas filled with cheese and herb. Hungry Moon also sells pan de yuca, a yuca-flour bun filled with cheese and — in a nod to to the space’s previous occupant — soft pretzels.

East Coast Empanadas sells just the baked empanadas but can provide other varieties via special order.

All the empanadas are helpfully marked in edible ink with their variety — “ch” for chicken, “v” for vegetarian, and “ss” for cheesesteak and come with zesty aji pepper sauce. East Coast also offers honey barbecue sauce and sriracha ketchup.

East Coast is lining up appearances at the Headhouse Square and Clark Park Farmers Markets this summer in addition to the weekly Collingswood market and the Sisterly Love Pop-Up Food Fair. The first pop-up event will be noon to 6 p.m. April 10 at Ortlieb’s in Northern Liberties.