This North Fork-based Mexican restaurant chain is making a move up-Island.
Marc LaMaina is opening his fifth Lucharitos location at 843B Walt Whitman Rd., in the Melville Mall shopping center.
Thomas Martino, general manager of the Melville location, confirmed with greaterhuntington.com that ownership is aiming to debut its latest location sometime in October.
“Every day that we are down there, people walk in at least 15 to 20 times a day thinking we are open and ask for a menu,” Martino said. “I think this one in Melville is going to be the beginning of a lot more Lucharitos coming on Long Island.”
Lucharitos translates into “little fighter,” which rings true of the restaurant’s back story.
The name is also a tribute to LaMaina’s firstborn son, who battled illness after he was born.
the back story
LaMaina reimagined, then reopened, a business who had been running in Greenport, Butta Cakes, as Lucharitos in 2012 after Hurricane Sandy wiped out his café, he said.
Instead of keeping Butta Cakes going, he decided to make the shift from desserts to tacos and margaritas.
What started as a 750-square-foot space and two years of perfecting Mexican dishes has turned into a 71-seat “mothership restaurant” with 21 bar seats just steps from Greenport Harbor.
The business grew from there.
In 2017, Little Lucharitos, a scaled-down, mini-version of the original concept, opened at 487 Main Road in Aquebogue.
The team then started a Chipotle-style Lucharitos Burrito Bar in Mattituck in 2019 and, last year, LaMaina put together Lucharitos Farm in Center Moriches, a farmhouse property with chickens, homegrown vegetables, a café, a food truck and more.
“Every location so far is definitely a little different from the other ones, but they all have a piece of the same thing in them,” he said.
When looking for the latest place to open another Lucharitos, the idea was to avoid over-saturating the East End.
Martino describes the new Melville restaurant as a “prototypical, cookie-cutter location” that will become the model for future Lucharitos to come.
This was the first location that was a true build-out, Martino says. And LaMaina has been fully involved, from the design to hanging up the “luchador,” or wrestler-themed décor.
Lucharitos Melville is a 2,500-square-foot space that can fit 105 people and holds 82 seats inside.
All the staff is hired and orientations will start next week.
Right now, the Lucharitos team is just waiting for final governmental approvals.
“[LaMaina] knows what he wants and he just put it all into Melville,” Martino said. “Melville is what Marc sees as his location…he wants to constantly open up more and more locations. He’s super involved and treats his staff as his family.”
Continue to follow greaterhuntington.com for updates.
Top: Exterior of Lucharitos Melville, photo courtesy of the restaurant’s Facebook page.