Manuel Solis and Antonio Mendez came to St. Bernard via Cuba in the 1780s, where they had learned the sugar business. Mendez was credited with growing sugar for personal use. Manuel Solis, often working with his son Joseph, was credited with distilling tafia, an unaged rum made with molasses or cane juice.

Solis was unsuccessful in his attempts to grow and granulate sugar commercially in St. Bernard Parish on his plantation located on Bayou Terre-aux-Boeufs, which included a mill and a distillery. He sold his plantation to Mendez, who was able to produce a successful crop in 1794. Rather than create sugar from the crop, Mendez sold his cane plants to Etienne de Boré and others who wished to try to grow and granulate sugar commercially instead of indigo, which at the time was one of Louisiana’s primary cash crops.

Don Antonio Mendez was able to produce the first syrup ever recorded in the United States.