By Jano Tantongco
Elected officials, community leaders and Babalu’s growing following converged at the Cuban bistro last week for a ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce.
Brian Yudewitz, chamber chairman, extended membership and congratulations to the new restaurant, just before the ribbon was cut.
“We want to welcome you to our chamber community and we’re going to strongly encourage all our chamber members to attend your establishment often,” Yudewitz said.
Babalu, which also incorporates Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, opened its 286 New York Ave. doors in April.
Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington Station) also welcomed Babalu to Huntington village.
“We know this will be a great addition to the area, and we look forward to the good food. Congratulations to you and the family,” Lupinacci said.
Huntington Councilwoman Tracey Edwards envisioned the opportunities before “young entrepreneur” Alan Gotay, who owns Babalu.
“On behalf of the Town of Huntington, and especially the Huntington residents who are going to love this restaurant and the family-rich history, I want to make sure that you all not only taste the food, but you walk through and see all the gems and pictures that tell this family’s history,” Edwards said.
Gotay, a 26-year-old from Huntington with a Puerto Rican and Cuban background, is also a professional boxer. He’s fought at The Paramount 10 times.
“I appreciate the support immensely, I couldn’t have done it without a lot of people here and a lot of people taking a chance on me. I hope to be here for a very, very long time and build as I live here and support the town,” Gotay said.
He said the frenetic pace of the business has been an almost surreal challenge toward his passion and goals that he’s embraced wholeheartedly.
“It’s been fast, it’s been hectic and it’s been like a roller coaster ride — a good one at that.”