Sweet success in the Star City for Venezuelan siblings in American restaurant industry

Hispanic Heritage Month

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — A quick stop at Crumbles Store is how some people start their day. Later, they may enjoy lunch at Leonore Restaurant. Then for dinner, it’s pizza from Grace’s Place Pizzeria. These three Roanoke restaurants are each owned by one of three siblings who moved to the United States from Venezuela.

 “It makes me feel proud that we accomplished something coming so many miles, 2,000 miles away from our home and come here and work very hard and being received,” said Grace Niday, owner of Grace’s Place Pizzeria.

Grace’s Place Pizzeria is where it all started. Grace and her brother Ruben Liendo opened the restaurant together before their brother Miguel Liendo joined them.

Gourmet pizzas, pasta, and sandwiches are just a few of the items offered at the Grandin Road business. Although the food served is mostly Italian, Grace says she adds a little taste of her home country.

“We kind of have a little Venezuelan flair in it with our sauces,” said Grace. “Normally, you’ll find lasagna here with ricotta, but ours doesn’t have it. We use béchamel sauce in it. And that’s how we’re used to seeing mom fix it.”

The siblings’ mother, Leonore, passed away after battling cancer. About nine years ago, Miguel opened a restaurant on Campbell Avenue SW named after her.

“I love mama. I miss her and it was kind of a way to honor her,” said Miguel, owner of Leonore Restaurant.

Miguel’s Italian-Venezuelan eatery is filled with inspirations from his late mother, especially the Carne en Salsa.

“The first time I made it here, I sat down to try it and it took me right back to my mom’s kitchen when she would serve it for us,” Miguel said.

Miguel and Grace’s brother, Ruben, owns Crumbles Store. It is a breakfast spot located on Kirk Avenue SW.

“We have biscuits. We have bagels. We’ve got croissants, coffee, and of course our number one product which is cinnamon rolls,” Ruben said.

The cinnamon rolls are glazed like no other, giving customers a little taste of Venezuela.

“We do have this thing called golfeados and it’s pretty much the same technique, the same technique of laying out the dough. You put sugar and everything, but we don’t use sugar,” Ruben explained. “We actually use a natural cane sugar and cheese. So you have this sweet and salty into a roll, we cut it just like a cinnamon roll, and we put a piece of cheese on top kind of like fresh mozzarella.”

It may sound weird, but one customer told WFXR News the cinnamon rolls are “really good.”

Ruben, Miguel, and Grace all came to the United States in search of better opportunities, but they never thought they would find sweet success in the American restaurant industry serving flavorful dishes inspired by their mother and home country.

“Today, I feel like it was worth it. It was worth it to come here and we love our life here,” Grace said.

“It’s not easy, but we’re here standing up,” said Miguel.

“Being an immigrant, coming to the United States which I call home now definitely I think it has been a journey that I think we all enjoy,” Ruben said.

All three siblings said watching their mother cooking in the kitchen when they were children played a huge role in their love and passion for cooking.

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