“Kevin Can Wait,” and sometimes he gets waited on — as was sitcom star Kevin James on Wednesday at the Holbrook restaurant Habanero’s Tex-Mex.
“I was on the phone taking a catering order when one of the girls who works for me slipped me a note saying Kevin James was here,” says Brian Kiley, 44, owner of the 3-year-old neighborhood eatery. “She was very excited. She went up to him and shook his hand.” So did the server’s father, in fact. “He happened to be dropping her off at work,” Kiley adds, chuckling. “He was star-struck. It was quite funny. He went over and shook his hand, saying, ‘I have to shake your hand!’ ”
Otherwise, Kiley says, James and his small group, who arrived in midafternoon, enjoyed their meal quietly like any other customer. “They asked me what was good, and I believe Kevin James was in the mood for a burrito, so he had a ground-beef burrito. And there were fried pickles and a full rack of baby back ribs for the table.”
After they were finished, “I talked to him for about 15 or 20 minutes,” Kiley says of the comedy star, who was born in Mineola and raised in Stony Brook, and whose CBS series is set in Massapequa and shot at Gold Coast Studios in Bethpage. “He was very approachable, very nice, very down-to-earth. He said he enjoyed the food and that he would be back. It was a nice conversation between one person and another. I didn’t ask him about his work.”
Kiley, of Farmingville, had previously owned a pizzeria and later a clam bar in Smithtown, where he was born and raised. He then was in the wholesale food business for 15 years before giving in to the urge to have his own place again. He opened his Tex-Mex barbecue restaurant on the site of a closed deli.
“It was very exciting that he would come and dine in my restaurant,” says Kiley, who posted a snapshot of the two of them to social media. “And to talk to him was very nice.”
James, 52, is set to play two performances at The Paramount in Huntington on Sunday.