It didn’t take long for hungry patrons to start filling the seats inside Lucharitos after the renovated eatery opened its doors for the first time since March on Friday morning.
“Since the first table walked in, everyone just piled in behind,” Lucharitos manager Sterling Smiley said while tending to customers at the Mexican restaurant in Greenport Friday afternoon.
There are a few new menu items — like pork huaraches, wings and tortas, the latter of which are sandwiches served with avocado, lettuce, beans and salsa verde — more tables, and additional Luchador-themed decor throughout the restaurant.
“We took all the top specials we had and put them right on the menu,” said owner Marc LaMaina when reached by phone on Friday. He also pointed to new large salads on the menu as well as a shrimp burger and said staples like jalapeño poppers and Mexican pizza have returned. The restaurant is also selling branded merchandise including T-shirts.
But the change that will surely be most noticeable for customers during the upcoming season is what they’ll be seeing less of — lines.
The Main Street bar and restaurant has tripled its kitchen space and now has the ability to serve 50 customers at tables and another 21 at a new bar. That’s compared to the 16 it could previously seat at tables and the 12 it could fit at the bar.
“We always had to wait on line to come here. It was such a hassle, but always worth it,” said Frances Penaro of Malverne, who was staying at The Morning Glory Bed and Breakfast along with her husband, Lawrence.
“I think it’s as good as any high-end Mexican restaurant,” Mr. Penaro said as his wife sipped a pomegranate margarita.
LaMaina opened Lucharitos in late 2012 after Hurricane Sandy dealt a heavy blow to the eatery he used to operate out of the same space — Butta Cakes, a cupcake shop. Since then, it has quickly blossomed into a popular destination, therefore requiring the expansion plans two years after opening up shop.
LaMaina said he knew he had to expand last year as his waitstaff had trouble moving around the small restaurant.
“It is a blessing to be open,” he said. “It was a lot of work and a lot of money.”
He thanked his customers as well as his staff members, including Smiley, who volunteered to get the business ready in time.
Christopher Augusta and his wife, Darolyn, owners of Harvest Inn Bed & Breakfast in Peconic, said they were happy to see the business expand.
“It’s one of our favorite places,” Ms. Augusta said while enjoying a chip dip trio at the restaurant’s bar. “Our guests love to come here.”
“It offers quality ethnic food at a reasonable price,” Mr. Augusta added. “We need more of that out here.”
Check out more photos from the renovated restaurant below.