Don Quijote Restaurant opened for business this week in the former Meson Olé building where Patchogue meets Blue Point on Montauk Highway, quietly welcoming a trickle of diners as the staff irons out the kinks before Thursday’s big grand opening.
For the Lopez family that owns Don Quijote, this all marks somewhat of a homecoming.
That’s because owner Blayker Lopez, who opened up the first Don Quijote in Miller Place with his wife, Amir, in 2002, managed the old Meson Olé for almost all of the 1990s.
Their children, Andre, 23, and Kathy, 26, spent a good deal of their childhoods in the building.
“I remember we’d see [Andre] in the back there doing homework,” said Steve Phillips of Patchogue, who stopped by Don Quijote’s, which offers a mix of Spanish and Latin food, for the first time Friday with his wife, Linda.
Andre Lopez chuckled, and remarked that at least the South Shore location is an easier commute from his home in Center Moriches.
The Lopez family took over the building in July and got to work as soon as they could.
“It was really antique, really, and pretty run down,” Andre Lopez said of the old restaurant. “It was dark and gloomy, and that carpet was atrocious. The first thing we did was rip that up and put tile in.”
They also renovated and extended the bar, and added a tile facade and classic oak beams overhead to modernize the look. He said they envision a lively bar scene, as well as plenty of space for family-style dining.
Asked to give her feedback of the revamped restaurant, Linda Phillips said, “Wow.”
“It’s bright, it’s cheery,” she said. “And the food is outrageous.”
“I just can’t wait to see his father again,” her husband said.
Top: Andre Lopez saddles up to the bar with his mom, Amir, in Patchogue. (Michael White)