New Tex-Mex cuisine is coming to Southold as a beloved restaurant says goodbye.
Señor Taco Mexican Grill, which has locations in Mt. Sinai, Holbrook, Nesconset and Wading River, is planning to open at 44780 Route 48, the site of the former O’Mally’s.
O’Mally’s, which had been under the ownership of Jimmy Kokotas for seven years, closed earlier this month.
Kokotas said a variety of factors led to the decision to close O’Mally’s.
“We weren’t able to find the help that we needed,” he said. The staffing troubles — an industry-wide problem that affected many North Fork restaurants this year — were made even more difficult because Kokotas lives full-time in Brooklyn and had difficulty constantly traveling to Southold.
The restaurateur’s goals for O’Mally’s were expansive and he expressed regret at not being able to implement them. Plans originally included being open for breakfast, expanding the backyard area and more.
“I’m disappointed and upset,” he said. “I don’t want to say it’s cutting your loss because it wasn’t a loss — we went out there with intentions and dreams and goals and ambitions.”
Kokotas has heard from many regulars and locals who have enjoyed O’Mally’s over the years and is overwhelmed by the kind words and love he’s received.
“We wish them all the best,” he said. “All the good life, may it shine upon them. And we thank them for the years of support to our business. And hopefully they support Señor Taco. I hope they become an asset to the community, as well.”
Carol Braico, whose family founded Señor Taco in 2006 in Mount Sinai, is excited to bring the brand to the North Fork.
“It’s a very close family business,” she said. “We love this community. We love the East End and want to offer the people in Southold some new cuisine.”
Braico’s husband Joseph is the athletic director for the Southold School District.
“We know the town very well,” she said. “We love it. We love the people, the atmosphere. We’re very excited to be entering the East End market.”
The Southold menu will be the same as the other locations and include tacos, empanadas, burritos, salads, soups, cocktails and more.
“Everything we make is fresh, with high-quality ingredients,” Braico said. “Nothing is processed or microwaved.”
There are gluten-free options, as well, and the restaurant also does catering.
Señor Taco is targeting a March or April opening, following renovations to the building.
Though the location is once again changing hands, Braico hopes the community will embrace the new restaurant.
“We’re excited to offer the people of Southold some fresh, delicious food,” she said.