Opening a restaurant is always a big risk, and opening at the beginning of a pandemic is most certainly nerve-racking. For one family, who opened Boricua Restaurant last year, hard work, wonderful relationships and great food brought magnificent success.
“It’s been extremely exciting,” said Hector Serrano, who owns Boricua Restaurant at 1149 N. 3rd Street, along with his sister, Jazmin Serrano. “We didn’t know what to expect this past year with COVID.”
Their homemade Puerto Rican platters of Yellow Rice and Beans, Chicken Breast with Gravy (Pollo Guisado) or Roasted Pulled Pork (Pernil) and a Mixed Green Salad or Potato Salad caught on quickly.
“The biggest compliment for me is they always say ‘This reminds me of my grandmother’s cooking’, and that’s what we want,” said Hector with a smile.
The restaurant has also been fortunate to get a lot of travelers who find Boricua when they fly into Philadelphia and search online for ‘Puerto Rican Food’. On a recent day that the Juniata News visited, a group from Texas was eating inside the restaurant just after 11:30 am, and the day before, families from New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles enjoyed the inside dining.
The kitchen is run strictly by family members, keeping the family recipes and quality at top tier. “Myself, my sister, my nephew, my niece,” said Hector. His mom aunt and brother-in-law also pitch-in at times.
The first weekend of each month is a special time when the family adds a number of items to the menu, such as BBQ Chicken, Soup, White Rice, Corned Beef, Fried Pork, Sweet Plantains, Fried Chicken, and Baked Macaroni and Cheese. Hector recommends that your follow Boricua Restaurant on Instagram and Facebook to see their latest offerings.
The restaurant is able to cater to large events. Their relationship with Patriot Home Care both provided the restaurant with additional sales, but also the skills for preparing a large amount of platters. During the pandemic, Patriot Home Care partnered with Boricua Restaurant to provide meals to those in need. “We were able to work with them and give out over 10,000 platters, not only in the City of Philadelphia, but to Reading and to Allentown.
“People are struggling,” said Hector. “Patriot saw a need in the Latino community, especially in North Philly.” Patriot wanted to offer home cooked meals to those in need, not just hoagies. Five-hundred people were expected at the first event that was held at Concilio on Hunting Park Avenue. Over 1500 lined up that day.
Boricua is a very well-organized small family business, and at times, they need to take time off. Unlike the big chain restaurants, Hector said that whenever he feels as though they need some time off, he doesn’t mind closing the restaurant for 3 or 4 days for the family to recuperate. “God is the center of all,” he said. We pray each day before we open, and after we close.”
This successful first year is bringing fruit to a second location for Boricua. COMING SOON!!!! – A new indoor dining location! The new restaurant is already under construction, and Hector is excited to make a formal announcement about the location in the near future. The restaurant is planned to be open before the holiday season this year. Hector said that it will be the largest family-owned Latin restaurant in the city and the state.
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1149 N. 3rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Open Monday – Saturday, 11:00 am to 8:00 pm; Sunday 11:00 am to 6:00 pm