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John Vanderwolf, Mike Czartosieski, Marc LaMaina and Kim Haga are the team behind Good Juju’s in Aquebouge. (Photo Credit: Lilly Parnell)

Beginning Friday, May 12, the spot that was once Little Lucharitos trades tacos for southern comfort food with the opening of Good Juju’s BBQ & Seafood Shack. This latest culinary adventure of restaurateur and mastermind behind the successful Lucharitos franchise, Marc LaMaina, is unlike anything else found on the North Fork. 

“Most places here serve that classic New York style seafood and we wanted to try something different,” said head chef John Vanderwolf. “It was an interesting idea Marc came to me with. We experimented with a lot of concepts before we dialed it in a bit and decided to mirror a classic seafood and barbecue shack you would see in Florida or the Carolinas.” 

Good Juju’s will fill the 800-square-foot restaurant in Aquebogue – complete with a redesigned interior reminiscent of the small crab shack restaurants found in coastal towns throughout the south. The idea to rebrand came when LaMaina realized Little Lucharitos was in too close proximity to the other locations in Center Moriches and Mattituck. 

“We were caught in the middle out here,” said LaMaina. “Mattituck and Center Moriches are doing so well, it was hard to keep people coming into Little Lucharitos. So we wanted to change up the concept and try something new.” 

LaMaina, who went to school in Charleston, South Carolina, always had a love for the South and its unique flavors. He and Vanderwolf developed the menu to feature an array of classic barbecue items, such as brisket, ribs and pulled pork made with the smoker located on the back patio. They also decided to serve seafood with a Cajun spin, including po’boys, fried fish and a seafood boil, complete with bib and crackers. 

“We want people to come for the boils,” said LaMaina. “Guests have the option to mix and match lobster, crab and shrimp as well as potatoes, corn and andouille sausage and an array of sauces.”

The seafood and fixings are boiled and arrive in a boil bag. The servers will shake it up before dumping it on a big metal plate. “It’s our wow factor,” said LaMaina. “We’re going for the full triple threat of food, drink and a memorable experience.” 

Good Juju’s will be Vanderwolf’s first time at the helm of the kitchen. He first began at Lucharitos two years ago as a second assistant to the chef in Center Moriches. An avid fisherman and master with the smoker, LaMaina knew he wanted him to lead the charge of this newest venture. 

The pair will also work with Kim Haga, the front-of-the-house manager, Tai McKenzie, the general manager, and Mike Czartosieski, the area director, to ensure a fun and welcoming atmosphere for all guests. Haga, who also works as head bartender, produced a menu of familiar and new cocktails that match Good Juju’s theme. 

“Unlike Lucharitos, we have a very whiskey-forward drink menu,” said Haga. “While we still serve classic margaritas, I think our stand out will be the Juju’s rum bucket, which features rum from Montauk Distilling Co. is our spin on a painkiller.” 

The team is excited to welcome people onto the patio for larger gatherings, with multiple tables and firepits inviting everyone to dine outside throughout the spring, summer and fall. 

“The key to success is creating a welcoming environment for everyone,” said LaMaina. “We want people to come here and spend a few hours and enjoy our food and our company. It’s all about the experience we’re offering.” 

You can stop by Good Juju’s BBQ & Seafood Shack for their grand opening on Friday, May 12 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. They are located at 487 Main Rd, Aquebogue, NY 11901, and are open Wednesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.