NATCHITOCHES, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — Imagine your family legacy being a Natchitoches meat pie restaurant, because that’s exactly what life is like for Angela Lasyone of Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaurant.
She says her family started Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaraunt in 1967, and she has plenty to say about the restaurant’s history and what dipping sauces she recommends for meat pies.
If you’ve never eaten a Lasayone’s meat pie, you really don’t know what you’re missing. If there was a beauty contest for meat pies, Lasayone’s meat pie would win Miss. Congeniality and Most Beautiful. They’re crispy on the outside and spicy on the inside, and just the right size for you to keep ordering one at a time until you promise your dinner date that “this is the last one.”
But Rome wasn’t built in a week, and neither was Lasyone’s.
“My Dad actually started in the back of Live Oak Grocery, which was right next door,” said Angela Lasyone when asked about how meat pies became all-the-rage in Natchitoches. “He was a butcher and he used to grind the meat for the wealthy women who made them in their homes, and so it kind of became a supply and demand issue. If you weren’t friends with the wealthy women, then you didn’t get ’em.”
But wealthy women weren’t the only ones making meat pies.
The history of meat pies
“All over the world they have different forms of pies,” said Lasyone when she was asked about the history of meat pies. “In Australia, they have the Aussie Pie. Different places have different varieties. My father had a 5th-grade education and he remembered Black men peddling them in carts on the sidewalks (in Natchitoches.) I think it had some African American descent, maybe a little Spanish influence with the empanada and the shape. I know this was a French settlement, but we don’t know who else was running around here.”
Evidence shows that ancient Romans and Greeks made and consumed meat pies, as did ancient Egyptians. The Acadians who lived around Nova Scotia once made pâté à la viande, a meat pie that likely included chicken, rabbit, and beef. The Spanish have long been known for spicy empanadas, too.
It seems that creating and consuming meat pies is a universally-human desire. Maybe that’s why Lasyone’s idea to open a meat pie restaurant in Natchitoches worked so well?
How Natchitoches became known for meat pies
“He kind of started concocting his own recipe, and so the meat pie that we have today is the one that he came up with,” said Lasyone about her father’s early days in inventing the commercial meat pie business in Natchitoches. “He had a little side window where he would sell them out of the market, where he did meat pies, red beans and rice, bottled peppers, and I think he did hamburgers.”
Lasyone’s was the first of its kind in Natchitoches.
“We actually still have one of the barrels that he used to get the big chiles in, and the bottle capper he used, the pot he originally started with, and more in the front window of the restaurant,” said Lasyone.
The restaurant’s physical building has an interesting history, too. It once belonged to the Masonic Lodge in Natchitoches.
“They had their chapter room upstairs, which is now our banquet room,” said Lasyone. “He (Amanda’s father) started renting the side, which was just a takeout and kitchen area, and he leased the other side to put in his first dining room. He didn’t have enough money for tables and chairs, so he had little school chairs around the perimeter. Finally, City Bank loaned him some money and he bought tables and chairs. We still have the same tables.”
Lasyone says there used to be a dentist’s office and a shoe store in part of the building. Then in the 1970s, the Masons sold Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaurant the entire building.
But the restaurant isn’t afraid to leave town for a 3-4 day festival, where they serve up crawfish pies, shrimp pies, breakfast pies, and their traditional meat pies in cities like Austin, Virginia Beach, New Orleans, Albuquerque, and Ocean Springs.
Lasyone’s makes between 800 and 2000 meat pies every day. Amanda Lasyone added to the menu when she developed the crawfish pie. “We use all Louisiana tail meat,” she told KTAL. “And it’s a big seller also.”
Misconceptions about Lasyone’s
Amanda Lasyone says the big misconception about her family’s restaurant is that the frozen “Famous Natchitoches Meat Pies” are theirs.
“I can’t tell you how many times a day people say they bought them and they don’t taste the same. It’s because they’re not ours. It’s two totally different pies,” she said as her eye almost twitched.
Lasyone says their restaurant did make frozen meat pies for a little while, but there was too much red tape and they stopped.
“Some of the ingredients we use in our meat pies you can’t use in mass production because of the way it rises,” she said.
When asked if she has any tips for folks at home who want to make their own meat pies, she said, “Don’t make them. Come get them from us. It’s work.”
How does Lasyone’s make so many meat pies every day?
“We cook the meat the day before and we cool it down in front of fans with these big popsicles called ice sticks,” Lasyone said of the process it takes to make thousands of meat pies. “We get the grease off of it and put it in the refrigerator. The next morning the guys come in to start balling up the dough. They roll out all the dough first, then they start cutting them into circles and stacking two pieces to a wax paper. Then they’ll sit down and put the meat in it, crimp them, and we put some in the coolers and some in the freezers.”
Lasyone says the most meat pies the restaurant has ever made in one day is when a story about the restaurant broke in the New York Times.
“The article hit in December, my mom passed in January, and we had all these orders coming in,” said Lasyone. “It wasn’t just a little article. It was a 1/4 of a page and we didn’t even know it was coming out. We were having to make 2000-3000 pies a day to keep up with those orders, plus Mom’s funeral. It was crazy.”
Though shalt not dip thy meat pie in ketchup, but what about other sauces?
When asked if it is shameful to dip your meat pie in ketchup, Lasyone didn’t hesitate for a fraction of a second before answering with a laugh, “It’s not shameful if you’re in kindergarten.”
So what do people dip their meat pies in? Lasyone said all types of sauces are acceptable (save ketchup) but there’s one in particular that’s the best.
“We serve it with homemade, scratch brown gravy because a lot of people get it with the dirty rice,” she says with an air of authority.
And she has earned the right to be considered an authority on all things meat pie. But Lasyone gets even more saucy.
“Some people put mustard on them. Some people dip them in ranch dressing. And when we do festivals, we sometimes make a creole sour cream sauce to go on them.”
After a few minutes of begging, KTAL staff managed to talk Angela Lasyone into giving away her recipe for the special sauce that people like to use on meat pies when the restaurant goes cross-country for festivals.
Angela Lasyone’s creole sour cream sauce
Lasyone didn’t give out exact amounts to be used for each ingredient, but she did tell KTAL to combine the following ingredients to make Lasyone’s creole sour cream sauce.
Combine sour cream, cajun seasoning, paprika, cayenne pepper, and stir to taste.
“It’s really good,” she said. “We like to sell it for our french fries, but we had it in a pump on a table at a festival and people were pumping it on the meat pies.
The second-generation owner of her family’s business
“I expected to take over the business,” Lasyone told KTAL. “But after I graduated, I wanted to get out and work for a little bit first, so I could experience being an employee. I needed to understand how I didn’t want to be treated and how I wanted to be treated.”
Then in 1993, something happened.
“My mother had passed away and my dad woke up one morning and couldn’t stand up or walk.”
Lasyone suddenly knew it was time. Amanda has sister who is also part owner, “But she hates to cook,” said Amanda. “She is my moral support when I have a bad day and need to vent.”
Employees stay at Lasyone’s. One has been there 53 years, one 49 years. Four guys have been in the kitchen for 15 years or more.
Lasyone says that everyone is trained to do something and that keeps everything consistent.
How does Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaurant keep its employees? Lasayonne says just be good to people. “I’m sure I do a lot they don’t like, but I try to be fair. I try to help others when I can, to guide others in the right direction.”
Have mercy on restaurants
Lasyone says that now is a tough time to be in the restaurant industry.
“When you’ve been in business as long as we have, you’ve seen it from one end of the spectrum to another,” she confessed. “It’s a lot different now.”
The restauranteur says all restaurants are going through hardships. “Prices are going up in all aspects–food, insurance, credit card fees. When you see that prices have gone up, it’s not because owners wanted that. It’s what owners had to do to keep the doors open.”
She also says to be patient with kitchen staff everywhere, especially during late summer and early fall.
“Remember that in the kitchen, it’s hot. Even with air conditioning, all kitchens are extremely hot. The food takes longer when it’s hot. Just have patience and understanding, because everybody does the best they can.”
For more information on Lasyone’s, visit them online at www.lasyones.com
Lasyone’s is located at 622 2nd Street in Natchitoches. But if you can’t make it to them, they’ll make it to you. The restaurant caters to school groups, and businesses, and will even come as far as Shreveport to cater your wedding or special event.