HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY — More than 70 percent of businesses in downtown Hazleton are Hispanic owned.

Diego Tavares starts each morning in the kitchen at the Malaia Lounge.

“People eat a lot in the morning, so they eat that stuff every day they come and get food. They call it “los tres golpes,” said Diego Tavares, chef at Malaia Lounge.

Tavares says it brings him great joy to be able to provide the Hazleton community with a little taste of home.

Malaia Lounge is just one of the many Hispanic-owned businesses now open in downtown Hazleton. You can find Dominican food, games, and plenty of lights.

“Our downtown is thriving again through the pandemic, there was a halt. Many businesses closed. Now we’re seeing many people are motivated and enthusiastic about starting up,” stated Yosara “Yoshie” Gonzalez, executive director of the Downtown Hazelton Alliance for Progress.

Like Figaro Hair Room, which is gearing up for its grand opening. Owner Wellington Núñez believes it’s important for Spanish-speaking barbers to serve the community downtown.

“He says it’s really important because when he is able to talk to his clients, they form a relationship. They are spending time here so they get to know each other. He thinks it’s pretty important to be able to communicate with his clients,” Núñez explained through a translator.

An important skill for anyone looking to open a new business, and that’s a service the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress provides.

“Downtown Hazleton has been a key partner for years for Hispanic businesses welcoming them, making sure that they understand that they are welcome here, that we want them to be here, and especially offering translation services for those types of issues with the language and especially making sure that we highlight them,” said Robert Collado, Main Street coordinator.

Highlighting Hispanic-owned businesses like Kiki’s Bakery and Café.

“You’re eating what is called tres leches. It’s a wet cake with a meringue, drizzled with dulce de leche,” described Yesenia Rodriguez, owner of Kiki’s Bakery and Café.

The tres leches is pretty good to someone who has never had it, but to others, it brings a little taste of home.

“It is important, for me it is at least. I immigrated to this country when I was 14 so having something that reminds you of your roots and reminds you of your childhood is very important to everybody I would say. It doesn’t matter what country you come from. Having something you can go and grab that brings you back to those memories I think is priceless,” explained Rodriguez.

To learn about what Figaro Hair Room has to offer, visit their website.