Good news for taco and tequila lovers: plans for a new Lucharitos restaurant in Center Moriches are moving forward again.

The deal was put on hold in December due to the government shutdown as Marc LaMaina of Lucharitos waited for Small Business Administration loan approvals.

The approvals have yet to come through, but LaMaina and property owner Chris Cohen decided to get the ball rolling.

“We’re leasing the property while we wait,” LaMaina, 38, of Riverhead, told GreaterMoriches. “It wasn’t fair to her,” he said of Cohen, who ran the former Mustard Seed Farm & Cafe and canceled a previous lease arrangement to make way for LaMaina to purchase the property.

Expansion includes bar, seating

Plans for the third Lucharitos include a 400-square-foot extension with a U-shaped bar. Seating at 177 Montauk Highway will increase from 16 to 30, plus extra space outside for catering. The two other other locations are in Greenport and Aquebogue.

“We could have come here with no additions, but you can’t really survive a winter with 16 seats,” LaMaina said.

LaMaina and crews have been cleaning out space over the last several days.

He anticipates a late spring to early summer opening once the necessary approvals come through.

Marc LaMaina, who runs the popular Lucharitos taco and tequila bar operations, is moving forward with a new location in Center Moriches. Credit: Carl Corry

The property falls within a historic district, so it needs approval before changing the exterior paint to teal from the white with green trim combination.

He also plans to turn a small building in the 1-acre property into a prep house for the Center Moriches location and two food trucks. The building was used for coffee roasting.

There will also be a flower farm and a butterfly garden.

‘A place for families’

“It’ll be a place for families to walk through the garden” in addition to getting a bite, he said. “We want a space where people can watch their kids. That’s the vision.”   

There will also be a greenhouse, a succulents garden and a tomato garden for salsa.

“We plan to grow seasonal vegetables to be used in the kitchen.”

Bryan Roche, the property’s caretaker for several years who will stay on with LaMaina, also plans to include strawberries.

Then there’s the “secret project” LaMaina has planned for another building on the property that currently has just a stove and a sink. He wouldn’t divulge details just yet, but he’s excited about it.

What made LaMaina choose this location?

“I just felt it,” he said. “This is my last project for a while, and I felt like this is a cool place to slow down.”