WALLINGFORD — Los Parceros Restaurant, owned by the Colombian brothers Juan Carlos and Juan Esteban Pereañez, relies on the strong affection for coffee that many Latinos enjoy to promote their eatery, located at 253 S. Colony Road.
Every day, from 7 to 9 am the restaurant is giving away free coffee to encourage patrons to support the new business, formerly known as La Cocina de Nelly. As is the case in many Latin American countries, coffee is brewed fresh and served black, or sweetened with milk and sugar.
Juan Carlos Pereañez is from Medellín, Colombia, and has been living in New Haven since 2019. He has been working in the restaurant industry for two years and has learned to enjoy it.
“You’re okay as long as there’s work,” he said. “And then when it’s yours, you have to work a lot harder.”
“Los Parceros” is a Colombian slang term that loosely translates to “the dudes.” The restaurant is filled with Colombian knick knacks, including a small decorative bus called a chiva. A sign over a pastry case filled with Colombian snacks and pastries advertises “bread made with love.” In the corner, a refrigerator is filled with soft drinks from Colombian soda brand Postobón, which Pereañez said he imports directly from Colombia.
The restaurant has the same general layout as the previous eatery and seating to accommodate about 40 patrons. Pereañez said he has been working on small updates to the restaurant like painting and moving the fridge.
The menu, loaded with Ecuadorian and Colombian dishes, hasn’t changed very much, either. The restaurant offers food a la carte and juice, but the main attraction is the corrientazo, or lunch special, for $10.99 – not including tax. The corrientazo is nothing fancy, just a traditional home-style meal, which includes rice, beans, a choice between two kinds of soups, and a choice between several kinds of meat.
“We change the menu every day,” Pereañez said. “We try to have something different.”
Pereañez is an energetic server, ladling out beans and soup with efficient motions as he greets customers with the trademark paisa hospitality of people from Medellín.
On Wednesday afternoon, María Yepez and Lucía Rodríguez of Meriden walked in and ordered lunch specials in Spanish.
“Buenas tardes,” Pereañez greeted the women from behind the steaming trays of food. “How can I help you?” he asked
Pereañez asked if the food was to eat in — it was — grabbed the right plate from a stack on a corner shelf, and served portions of rice, beans, soup, and fried plantains.
Yepez also ordered a lunch special with a fish head. Wielding a pair of tongs, Pereañez held up a few of the heads so that Yepez could pick one with the right size and crispiness.
Rodríguez squinted a little as she ordered a chicken thigh. She changed her mind and asked if she could get a fried fish head.
“You got it, boss. Whatever you like,” Pereañez answered.
The women said they had just come from a visit from the ophthalmologist’s office on an extended lunch break. Yepez added a soda to her lunch from the fridge. After she had eaten, Yepez walked up to the register and paid $13.51 in cash.
“It’s normal food for us,” Rodríguez said, and added that there weren’t a lot of places where they could get Ecuadorian food in the area.
She said she was from Chimborazo in Ecuador and had been living in Meriden for four years and missed home-style cooking.
Latino Communities Reporter Lau Guzmán is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Support RFA reporters at the Record-Journal through a donation by clicking here https://bit.ly/3Pdb0reTo learn more about RFA, visit www.reportforamerica.org.