One of downtown Riverhead’s longest running businesses is being split in half to make way for a new sandwich store called Main Street Heros.
Ken Loo, owner of Hy Ting Restaurant, is now planning to open the sandwich shop in the front of the building on 54 West Main Street, keeping the Hy Ting entrance in the back.
Hy Ting has been in the Loo family since 1994, and it’s been on West Main Street even longer under a prior owner, Mr. Loo said. He estimates it’s been there since the 1970s in a building that was once the Riverhead police station. And he’s worked at the restaurant since his family bought it, he says, adding that Main Street Heros is expected to open Jan. 2.
He’s advertising it as “Main Street’s Hero Headquarters.”
Mr. Loo said he got the idea during a trip to Southern California with his girlfriend, Maryanne Fiducia, when they visited a place called Fat Sal’s.
“I saw the sandwiches when I was out there, I tried one, and it was just out of this world,” Mr. Loo said.
While there are a number of successful hero stores in Suffolk County, Mr. Loo feels Riverhead hasn’t really had a hero shop since the Hero Inn on Griffing Avenue closed.
Main Street Heros will offer both sit-down service and takeout.
“We’re going to have soups, salads, Paninis, heroes … and we’re going to do different types of heros,” Mr. Loo said. “We’re going to have things like a roast beef hero, topped off with chicken fingers, avocado, cucumber, french fries, onions, gravy. Different combinations.
Hy Ting will continue to serve Chinese cuisine.
Mr. Loo has served a great diversity of different types of food at its restaurants. He also owns Haiku, a sushi restaurant on East Main Street, and he used to own a Mexican restaurant there too.
“I try to do stuff that I like to eat, myself,” he said.
He frequently goes to places like California and Manhattan to check out restaurants there.
He says his car and his bedroom are filled with cookbooks.
“People ask me, ‘What do you want for Christmas?’ I say, ‘More cookbooks,’” he said. “I’m lucky to be doing something I love.”
Mr. Loo never went to a culinary school. He learned to cook from his father, Young Loo, who owned a Chinese restaurant in the Bronx.
“I was born into it. I came to this country from China when I was five years ago,” he said. “My dad picked up my mom, me and (brother) Jimmy at the airport, and before we even went home, he took us to his restaurant.”