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 Pat’s of Henderson:
It’s been more than 30 years since Pat’s of Henderson owners Mr. and Mrs. Ricky Perioux and children conducted the grand opening of the Pat’s of Henderson restaurant off Legion on Siebarth.
Perioux says his four children, Keysha, Nicholas, Natalie and Lucas have all contributed to the success of the restaurant and still do. “And,” says Ricky Perioux, “let’s not forget the dedicated staff that I would put second to no one in this industry.”
The building featured a design element Perioux thinks has kept it popular right up to the present. Its division into four large dining rooms allows it to accommodate groups of 80 to 100 that most other restaurants just can’t manage.
Another feature — one that would be of tremendous practical benefit for any restaurant – is seating for more than 300.
It’s helped that the dining rooms have looked contemporary in design throughout the restaurant’s existence. Perioux says the entire building has been renovated twice in the last 20 years. And in July of this year, there was a major facelift to Pat’s bar.
“It’s done us a lot of good,” says Perioux. “Any time you change things, it draws curiosity.”
Of course, when locals talk about Pat’s, they talk about the food rather than the premises. Perioux says the original recipes of Pat’s have remained unchanged. But, he says, “We continue to add different types of entrees.”
The restaurant adds 8-10 new items each year. This is done for the benefit of regulars. “We do that for them so they’ll have something different to choose from,” says Perioux.
No one runs a 300-plus seat restaurant without a strong work ethic. It’s an ethic son Nicholas Perioux has adapted both in and outside the restaurant. “Without [my parents],” he says, “I wouldn’t have had anything to work with.”
Nicholas says he’s been working in Pat’s of Henderson all his life. When he was in middle school, he worked on the weekends to make spending money. And in high school, he worked as a bus boy.
With such humble beginnings, it might have been hard to see that Nicholas was following in the tradition of entrepreneurship that began in 1948 when his grandparents Pat and Agnes Huval started the original Pat’s in Henderson (where it still thrives today).
As any successful entrepreneur can tell you, part of entrepreneurship is hard work. “I paid for my own college,” says Nicholas. “If you want it, you’ve got to work for it.”
Before Nicholas got his college degree from McNeese, he’d already started his first company. At age 18, he started marketing his own spice mix — Louisiana’s Flavor. It’s still being sold today.
This precocious venture may have accounted to some degree for the fact that Nicholas became the first recipient of McNeese’s Entrepreneur of the Year award.
From the beginning, Nicholas planned to use his college education to contribute to the production and efficiency of Pat’s. He got “fresh ideas” from McNeese. “There’s no doubt. Some very significant things took place.” These things, says Nicholas, vastly increased the restaurant’s revenue.
Because his college prep had made him “good at the numbers,” he was able to use his newly acquired knowledge to make “it all come together [at Pat’s] and make sense.”
It’s still making sense. “It’s growing,” says Nicholas. “It has a lot more to grow.” This growth has a substantial foundation on which to build. As Nicholas’ father puts it, Pat’s “has a strong base in Lake Charles.”
Nicholas’ entrepreneurial bent continues to bear fruit. He’s just started a new construction company.