The pandemic has hit our communities hard, but Vermilion Parish entrepreneurs are defying these challenging circumstances in an unprecedented way.  Several new business ventures have opened across the parish, many of them food related. 

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

Mayor of Erath, Taylor Mencacci made it clear when he took office that he wanted to recapture the taxes and opportunities lost because of the lack of food options in his town. But he took it one step further and invested his own time and energy into restoring an old storefront located next to the Acadian Museum on East Edwards Street.

“We brought this business (Cafe’ Erath) to Erath, the community we love, in order 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 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 locations in Abbeville despite delays due to the COVID-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 bypass, and brought them back to life,” says Falgout. “King’s has been packed since day one, and we expect the same when Calabria opens their doors.”

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 location on Highway 14 and convenient drive-thru make 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 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.

“You can’t stop us,” says Falgout, “We are always up for a challenge! Now we just need the community to come out and support these local businesses and help us maintain the positive momentum we’ve gained in the last year.”

Stay up-to-date on new developments happening in Vermilion Parish by visiting the economic development alliance’s website: www.developvermilion.org/whatsnew.