Taste and tradition: These small businesses in Charlotte were recognized by Venezuelans. A group of Venezuelans gathered in Charlotte to support local entrepreneurs and showcase the businesses favored by this community.
Discover the Best Venezuelan Food in Charlotte: Four Businesses Honored by Community
As Charlotte’s Venezuelan community grows, so does the opportunity for new businesses and the demand for traditional foods. Four businesses were recognized by their customers as the best in offering the gastronomy of the South American country.
This recognition took place on January 18th at Azúcar Restaurant, where the Venezuelan Entrepreneurs Group gathered to celebrate with those who have emigrated and have managed to create their businesses from scratch.
Venezuelan Entrepreneurship in North Carolina
According to the group’s list, there are currently 32 businesses in Charlotte started by Venezuelans, covering areas such as gastronomy, event entertainment, transportation, desserts, bakeries, decorations and photography, among others.
Of these, 18 were considered to “measure forces” and determine which were the favorites of Charlotte’s clientele. Six emerged as winners and received symbolic recognition.
“We have seen how Venezuelans who have arrived in this country have had to reinvent themselves with ventures that later reach the level of becoming established businesses. For this reason, we wanted to make this recognition chosen by the votes of the clients.
“We have seen that all these ventures come with homemade recipes where the merchants decided to invest to expand their businesses and for next year we hope there will be more,” said Axel Quijada, organizer of the Venezuelan Entrepreneurs Group in Charlotte.
The four Venezuelan food ventures in Charlotte that were considered the best by diners and received recognition were the following:
Flavor Home: Traditional food with homemade flavor
Luis Salas and Fernando Urribarri moved to North Carolina in 2015. Both are from the city of Maracaibo. Salas is a business administrator and Urribarri is an industrial production engineer. Unable to practice their professions, they started working in a factory, but the pandemic left them unemployed.
Instead of getting discouraged, the young men saw an opportunity to do something they knew very well from their relatives: prepare food with a Maracaibo flavor, and in February 2020 they started selling it to their friends. The popularity of their dishes allowed them to open their business that same year.
“I liked it (cooking) since I was young and my aunt helped me a lot. My mother-in-law also helped us a lot. Fernando’s mother can make a spectacular meal in just five minutes. She also taught us, she has blessed hands,” Salas told La Noticia.
The Venezuelan Entrepreneurs Group in Charlotte recognized this business for the popularity it has achieved in just two years. Their most popular dishes are based on the gastronomy of the state of Zulia. “We have patacones, cachapas, tequeños, arepas, cabimeras, hamburgers. These are five of the most popular products,” he said.
Where to find them: 1600 South Boulevard, Charlotte.
- Hours: Thursdays from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
- Friday and Saturday from 7:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.
- Sundays from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
- Contact: (954) 643-0337
Pasteles La Andinita: The unmistakable taste of home
Alfredo Ramos and Marlyn Angulo decided to start their business after the cold temperatures of the North Carolina winter prevented them from leaving their home. Due to the confinement, the father of the family began baking pasteles (small fried pastries filled with various ingredients, such as cheese, ham, beef, or chicken). The preparation of this dish was meant to be a distraction and nourishment for the day.
“The project began because we could not work because it was very snowy and my husband decided to make cakes, but a neighbor came, knocked on our door and told us that they could smell a very rich aroma.
That was the idea of making cakes to sell. We started this business three and a half years ago. We started working from home with a small clientele. But it grew and we decided to start with the food truck,” says Ramos.
Pasteles La Andinita’s food truck was recognized as the Outstanding Business of the Year.
“We do things with a lot of love, a lot of dedication and we try to do things the best we can and add that special touch with Andean roots that we learned from my in-laws. We also have a special menu of arepas and cachapas on Wednesdays,” says Ramos.
Location: 20833 Catawba Ave, Cornelius.
- Hours: Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
- Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
- Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
- Contact: (305) 910-5069
Los Chamos: One of the most recognized by Venezuelans in Charlotte
Carlos Calzadilla and Michel Meza have not only become famous among their compatriots in Charlotte, but they have the merit of extending Venezuelan gastronomy to all cultures, adapting it to different palates without losing the traditional seal.
Michel worked in commerce and when he came to the United States, he worked in construction, electricity, package delivery and as a salesman. When his cousin told him about the possibility of getting into the restaurant business, they began to fight for the project.
“In the beginning, there was a lot of fear, but we use fear as a motivation rather than an obstacle. So what we are doing is working harder to overcome what is affecting us and to show that there are more of us good Venezuelans,“ Calzadilla told La Noticia.
After nine months of trying to renovate a space to turn it into a restaurant, they managed to start their business, Los Chamos, which was also recognized by the Venezuelan Entrepreneurs Group in Charlotte. Their most popular products are cachapa, Venezuelan hamburgers, pepitos and arepas.
Where to find them: 7001 South Blvd Ste B, Charlotte.
- Hours: Sunday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
- Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
- Contact: (980) 895-9002
Pastelitos La Pelu: Years of experience and taste
Maria Arias’ family was dedicated to selling pastries on the eastern shore of Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. This was the young woman’s comfort zone. But when she arrived in North Carolina in 2021, she began working in logistics.
Her mother, who had lived in North Carolina for three years, was the one who suggested she start her own business.
“She recommended that I try to be an entrepreneur and do something that I already knew how to do, so I started making what I knew how to do since I was 10 years old: pastelitos. So we started looking for all the ingredients until we found what we wanted,” the young woman told La Noticia.
Currently, this business does not have a shop but offers its services through its social networks as @pastelitoslapelu or through (980)315-2693.
“For me, this is a project for the future. I hope to have my business, I want to have a store, I want to become a distributor and send my goods to other states, I want to expand my menu and I want my spices to be reflected because everything is made by me,” said Arias.