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(credit: Felicia LaLomia).

When Melvin Recinos opened Lucia with his mother three and a half years ago, renovating the space was always in the plans to happen eventually. The kitchen was too small and a concrete wall in the middle of the dining room divided up the space. 

“Then, we were not ready to do a big renovation,” he said. “We started getting more and more customers, and we thought we had to take the wall out and make the kitchen bigger, because it was too small for the amount of food we sell.”

They made do with the space they had, but then COVID-19 hit, and Recinos decided to temporarily close Lucia’s doors for the safety of his staff and their families. In between fielding calls from customers asking when they would be open for takeout, he spent days cleaning.

“I was here cleaning late everyday like a normal day,” he said. “I told my mom ‘I think it is the right time to take the wall down.’”

They then sat on the idea for a few days. With the uncertainty the virus brought on, they were unsure putting more money into the restaurant was a good choice.

“My mom and I always say when there’s a problem, you need to think about it for a little bit, see how we can deal with it and do the best we can do,” Recinos said. So, they went ahead with the renovations. They removed the wall in the dining room, expanded the kitchen and redid the walls and floors.

Now, the Latin restaurant, located on the south side of Main Road across from Love Lane, has a brand new look and is once again open for takeout.

Inside, the walls have a splash of yellow, and little details around the interior bring in even more color. New tables and chairs, although stacked up now, bring in a modern vibe. In the back, close to the kitchen is a mural filled with colorful peppers, fruits and salsas. The new raised ceilings, also painted the vibrant yellow, add a feeling of expanse, and the recessed lighting adds subtle brightness. 

Little details give hints to the kind of restaurant Lucia is. On either side of the mural is an enlarged fork and spoon. Just below that is a bookshelf filled with cookbooks from famous restaurants like Daniel and Café Boulud, on countries like Peru, Argentina and Mexico, and about dishes like ceviche and paletas. 

Hidden like a little scavenger hunt for the eyes are chickens in different forms of art — sculptures, paintings and figurines. 

For Recinos, this renovation means more opportunity for Lucia. In June, he plans on serving breakfast to go, something he was never able to do with his previous kitchen. And although customers have yet to be able to sit and enjoy the new interior, Recinos is hopeful that day will come soon enough.

The bookshelf in the back is filled with cookbooks from all different restaurants and cuisines.
Little details of chickens are scattered throughout the restaurant.
The new mural above the back counter brings in a colorful vibe.
The walls are now a bright and inviting splash of yellow.
A shared back table looking out onto Main Road.