Brad Goins Sunday, December 22, 2013 0

One Of The Four Businesses That Have Appeared In Lagniappe’s Best Of Awards For 20 Consecutive Years

It’s now been 20 years since Lagniappe published the results of its first Best Of Southwest Louisiana survey.

In the two decades the Best of SWLA has existed, four businesses have made the list all 20 years. They haven’t always won in the same category, but each year they’ve managed to win the public’s support for something.

As it happens, all four are perennially popular food establishments that have stood the test of time. All serve dishes or drinks that are favorites of the public; any one of these might win a Best Of Award in any given year.

Lagniappe now takes a special look at these four repeat performers: Darrell’s, Pat’s of Henderson, Casa Mañana and Steamboat Bill’s. We’ll try to determine what they’ve changed in the last 20 years and what customer-pleasing features they’ve worked hard not to change at all. Here’s a look at Casa Mañana:


Almost 20 years ago, Casa Mañana went through a big round of changes. Director of operations Darren Martel recalls that the operation “expanded and remodeled in 1995.”

This was a real expansion. The result was an additional 120 seats — a tremendous boon for any restaurant.casabuilding

The expansion must have contributed a great deal to the long familiar sight of cars-parked-as-far-as-the-eye-can-see all around the venue.

Also boosting business almost 20 years ago was a catering operation that Casa had been started in 1994.

Along the way, Casa created signature dishes that would become draws for the area. These included, says Martel, quesadillas and “firecrackers” — dishes made with three cheeses, chicken, chorizo and secret spices.

Another big development has been the opening of Que Pasa, a new Mexican restaurant affiliated with Casa, which went into business in 2006.

And the expansions go on; Martel says Casa “recently purchased a food truck.”

“We’ve always prepared our food fresh daily in house for 37 years,” he says. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed.

“We’ve become one of SWLA’s top employers.” With all its operations, Casa now employees 200 workers.

Another thing that has remained constant is the ownership and management of the restaurant by the Martel family. Representative Darrell speaks for all when he says, “We thank SWLA and love SWLA … The family Martel thanks you.”