Lubbock restaurant says thank you with free Thanksgiving meal

La Placita by Rico Empanadas
Published: Nov. 24, 2022 at 5:47 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - On a day to give thanks, a woman who moved to the Hub City from Puerto Rico said thank you by opening her Thanksgiving dinner to anyone for free.

Marienid Penalbert, the owner of La Placita by Rico Empanadas, feels blessed to be in Lubbock.

“God always puts you in the right place,” Penalbert said.

She moved to Lubbock seven years ago for work. Then, Penalbert decided to bring her culture to Lubbock using a food truck, which was later called Ricos Empanadas.

“I came here and people are so amazing with me, they’re not being afraid to taste my food, they like my food,” Penalbert said. “I’m so so blessed, so it’s my way to thank other people.”

She’s a single mother of two and it’s a six-hour plane ride back home. So, on the holidays, it’s just her and her kids.

Her 16-year-old daughter had the idea to cook extra turkey and make room at the dinner table.

“Anyone that doesn’t have family or doesn’t have the budget because economy is really, really bad this year - they can come and eat and just spend time with us,” Penalbert said.

From 2 p.m. on Thursday until she ran out of food, anyone could walk into La Placita in Suite 69 on the corner of 130th and University to eat a traditional Puerto Rican Thanksgiving meal.

Penalbert says it warms her heart that her daughter also wanted to thank the people of Lubbock.

“As a mom, that’s what you want for your kids - have that opening to other people, embrace other people, and share the blessing that we have as a family,” Penalbert said.

Since Lubbock foodies have been open to trying her food, she’s been able to grow her business from an idea and a small food truck she called ‘Red.’

“We grow in a year to having La Placita and we have a bigger food truck that is really comfortable now,” Penalbert said.

Penalbert says her food truck will still be at the Wolfforth Farmer’s Market every Saturday. Now, La Placita will be open Friday 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The restaurant is located in Suite 69 at the Super Shops at A Plus Lubbock on 130th and University.