When Wanda Lugo opened her Venezuelan restaurant, Patacon Latin Cuisine, in 2015, she wasn’t sure how the city of Lafayette would react. Many Lafayette residents had never tasted Venezuelan food before. Wanda’s opening week was one of the busiest they’ve had in the restaurant’s five-year history. She runs Patacon with her daughter, Maria, her son, Daniel, and her niece, Elimar. It’s no accident that the Lugos ended up in Lafayette. Wanda’s husband, Jose, is an electrical engineer at Halliburton, and like Acadiana, Venezuela is an oil center. When the Venezuelan economy began to show signs of trouble, Jose requested a transfer and the Lugos ended up in Lafayette in 2006. Today, Patacon is a hub for the growing Latinx community in the region, and Lafayette wouldn’t be the same without Patacon’s arepas and empanadas.
The episode was reported and produced by Sarah Holtz. Sarah is an independent radio producer and documentary artist based in New Orleans.