For nearly 10 years, hungry residents have driven to 12371 Highway 90 in Luling to enjoy a delicious meal at Mariano’s Italian Eatery – but that changed last week.
The local eatery – instead of joining the statistics of another restaurant closing in the face of the global pandemic – has expanded into a new, larger location. Now hungry residents will have to drive 1.1 miles down the street to 12287 Highway 90 in Luling for their Italian favorites.
Owner Jacqueline Dufrene-Diaz Davis said she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to purchase the new location after renting the previous space for 10 years.
“We’re were outgrowing where we were and I noticed the for sale sign and on a whim I called about it,” she said. “Buildings don’t come around here very often in St. Charles Parish for restaurants and I decided to jump on it.”
Mariano’s Italian Eatery opened in Oct. 2010. Davis’ late husband Micheal Diaz, who previously worked as a state trooper, always had a dream of owning his own business in St. Charles Parish to support his family.
“We opened it together,” Davis said. “But in May 2011 he was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and then he passed away in 2013.”
After Micheal’s death, Jacqueline decided to keep Mariano’s open in his memory.
“He had a passion for it and always wanted to do it,” she said of the eatery. “Luckily we were able to keep it open. To be honest at one point I really wanted to sell it and walk away, but I’m so glad that I worked through it and I’m in a position to buy my own building now.”
Davis said it’s the loyal customers who support the restaurant who have put her in the position to be able to buy the new location.
Business has been even busier than before the pandemic, she added.
“It originally slowed down and I was very nervous and scared, but within a couple of weeks it just bounced right back,” she said of business since the spring, adding group orders from local industry workers helped to buoy the business. “Being in a smaller parish you get to know a lot of regulars … you watch their kids go from the baby carrier to high chairs and their kids growing into teenagers … a lot of customers we’ve gotten to know them by name and a little bit about their lives. I enjoy being in a smaller community and getting to have that connection and relationship with them.”
Aug. 30 was the restaurant’s last day at the original location.
“As I sit here tonight on our last night open at this location, I am so grateful for all the memories that have been created here with our staff, families, friends and customers,” Davis wrote on the business’ Facebook page. “I want to thank our customers for their ongoing business and support. I am beyond blessed to be able to purchase our new location on 12287 Highway 90 and can’t wait to welcome y’all there.”
The last customers to leave Mariano’s were customers who were married at the restaurant four years ago.
“We’ve had three weddings there and tons of banquets, baby and wedding showers and birthday parties,” Davis said. “We’ve had a lot of memorable occasions there.”
Davis said her loyal staff has made all the difference in the past decade.
“I’ve had some of the same staff for years,” she said. “This is not a business I can do by myself.”
Her five children have grown up at the eatery, as well as grown into leadership roles there.
For more information about Mariano’s Italian Eatery, call 985-785-7777 or visit www.marianospizza.net.