By Adam Quandt
The beginning of a new year is a time for change, rejuvenation and sometime full-blown reinvention.
Long Lake resident, Felipe Villalpando is taking those new year ideals and applying them to his restaurant Lagos.
However, Lagos isn’t necessarily a new restaurant and Villalpando wasn’t always the owner.
The restaurant used to be known as El Parian and was owned by Aldo Escoto, who was indicted with 46 federal charges, mostly related to drug trafficking. Charges against Escoto alleged that Escoto used restaurant ownership as a cover for illicit activities.
Villalpando managed El Parian for four years under Escoto’s ownership and said that the restaurant in Long Lake had nothing to do with drugs or Escoto’s alleged illegal activity.
“We have nothing to do with drugs over here,” Villalpando said in a past interview with the Pioneer. “And laundering money? We haven’t received a dime over here from the outside. I know what’s going on here; I’m here, open to close, open to close,” he added.
Villalpando is looking to put the scandal of Escoto and El Parian into the past and push into the future by redesigning and rebranding the restaurant.
“Everything is straight up now,” Villalpando said.
Since he was first approached and asked to take over ownership of the restaurant he had already poured so much work and time into, Villalpando was eager to better the restaurant’s reputation.
“It was time to start everything fresh,” Villalpando said. “There was too many problems with the old name. I thought we should change it so everything can be fresh.”
The name was only the starting point for Villalpando and his newly named restaurant, Lagos.
The interior of the restaurant features new décor and the walls shine with a new shade of bright green. Villalpando said he chose the shade of green for a “bright, fresh new start.”
Foodies can still expect the same authentic Mexican food that was featured on the El Parian menu at Lagos, with the addition of a few new dishes created by Villalpando.
The new, fresh-faced restaurant officially opened back up to the public on Jan. 6, after being closed for a few weeks in order to complete the renovations. However, Villalpando is planning to hold a grand opening event as soon as a few more last minute things come together, like the new building sign and new employee uniforms.
“It’s going to be big,” Villalpando said. “We’re going to have a mariachi band and just have a good time.”
“Everybody was so happy when we opened back up,” Villalpando said. He went on to say that people were lined up out the door when it came time to introduce the people of Long Lake to Lagos.
Villalpando holds the Long Lake community that has welcomed him into it very near to his heart and he hopes to offer the same welcome back to the community members when they come to his restaurant.
“Everybody is welcome,” Villalpando said. “We are happy to keep working over here in this community. We love the people, the customers and we are happy to serve the community.”