Cuban food is the focus of the menu at LuchaCubano...

Cuban food is the focus of the menu at LuchaCubano in RIverhead Credit: Marc LaMaina

Less than a year after it opened in Riverhead, LuchaCubano will close after dinner on Jan. 2. Owner Marc LaMaina said that a constellation of problems drove his decision to shutter the Cuban restaurant.

LaMaina was drawn to the East Main Street location across from the Suffolk Theater because of Riverhead's vaunted redevelopment plan (nearly $10 million was awarded to the town to fund eight projects).

But, he said, "We may have jumped in too soon." 

LaMaina said that the eatery faced challenges that went beyond the location including a front door that doesn’t face the street and a summer plagued with air conditioner problems. He also conceded that some in the community no doubt missed the diner that the restaurant replaced: LuchaCubano took over Sunny’s Riverhead Diner & Grill, the last incarnation of the vintage diner that had been in continuous operation since 1932.

All the historic diner details were left intact, from the tile floor to the revolving bar stools, but they were overlaid with a bright, tropical motif. The menu was a greatest hits of Cuban classics, from black bean soup and ropa vieja (braised beef) to lechon (roast pork) and Cuban sandwiches but, to honor Sunny’s legacy, breakfast and brunch were served as well.

LuchaCubano was the first non-Mexican concept from LaMaina, who has opened five Lucharitos Mexican restaurants on Long Island. (The first opened in Greenport in 2012; the sixth is in the works in Mineola.)

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