Food is something that brings visitors to Vermilion Parish.

With new restaurants popping up, some in familiar locations, those visitors have more options. Municipalities will also have a stronger foundation for a sales tax base.

Erath Mayor Taylor Mencacci said he wanted to build a strong tax base when he took office. Mencacci also wanted more food options in the town. He invested in helping to make that happen. Mencacci helped restore an older property next to the Acadian Museum on East Edwards Street.

“We brought this business (Café Erath) to Erath, the community we love, to facilitate a meeting place for citizens of all ages. As Mayor of Erath, it is also a goal to bring business to our community to help generate more sales tax for our town and parish,” says Mencacci.

Others, like resident Kenny Simmons, followed suit, “The Grub Lot was created to help move Erath forward and provide locals with a great diversity of food options in a one-stop-shop experience.”

The Grub Lot is a “food truck park” with a large, graveled parking area that offers rental space at daily, weekly or monthly rates and utility hookups.

Kevin Colomb, owner of Pinchers – a new boiled seafood food truck concept – was the first to take the bait. “As a native of Erath, I am thrilled to bring a new idea of local traditions to Vermilion Parish.”

But Erath isn’t the only community to experience a rise in dining options. Royal Fit Nutrition celebrated their grand opening in November, and in the last month, two New Iberia restaurants expanded into Vermilion. Both Calabria Italian Restaurant and King’s Seafood Express announced Abbeville locations despite delays due to the COV- ID-19 pandemic.

“Calabria and King’s are exciting new developments because they took previously out-of-commerce locations, one downtown and one on the Highway 14 by- pass, and brought them back to life,” says Vermilion Economic Development Alliance Executive Director Anne Falgout said. “King’s has been packed since day one, and we expect the same when Calabria opens their doors.”

Abbeville Councilman Brady Broussard Jr.’s district includes Calabria’s location near Magdalen Square. He said this would be a benefit to the city.

“It’s very exciting to see a new restaurant locate downtown in the old Midway building,” Broussard said. “Anytime increased sales tax revenue and jobs are produced in our city, it’s time to celebrate and support those efforts. Calabria Italian Restaurant is already operating successfully in New Iberia. We could not be happier to see them choose Abbeville for a second location.”

Broussard said the city has invested in improvements downtown to be more accommodating to visitors.

“With Phase 1 of the Streetscape grant program recently completed, there is now plenty free parking and handicap accessibility. This will make it easy to navigate the improved downtown area, and this new restaurant is expected to open soon.”-

Across the parish in Kaplan, things are a little sweeter. The Cajun Coffee Shop is serving up delicious coffee concoctions and homemade sweets along with full breakfast and lunch menus. Their Highway 14 and convenient drive-thru location makes it a perfect stop for people passing through the community and locals alike.

A few blocks away, The Choc’Lit Shoppe, an old-fashioned candy shop that meets ice cream parlor, has opened to fanfare from across the parish. With arcade games, a carousel and live entertainment, family-friendly fun has a tasty new location.”

In all, there are plenty of new, tasty options for people visiting Vermilion Parish.

“Vermilion Parish is known around Acadiana as a place where you can find an amazing meal,” Falgout said. “But no one could’ve predicted the immediate success of these new establishments. We’re thrilled that even a global pan- demic couldn’t stop these Cajuns’ pursuit of their dreams, and the residents of our communities will ultimately see the benefits.”

Originally published in the Abbeville Meridional, March 14, 2021.