Jan. 7, 2016 By Christian Murray
An Italian restaurant that closed in November after being in business just three days reopened Monday.
Zio Luigi, located at 42-15 Queens Blvd., closed on Nov. 9 after a fire broke out in the kitchen. It has taken eight weeks to repair the damage.
Owner Luis Bermejo said that it has been a struggle opening the restaurant since signing his lease eight months ago.
It took him six months to open the restaurant prior to the fire, since he had trouble getting the contractors to do a quality job, he said.
“This is my first business and I found out the hard way how tough it is working with contractors,” Bermejo said.
“I had saved up for years to start my own business,” Bermejo said, adding that the delays cost him a lot of money.
He said the kitchen fire was the result of poor construction work—since the kitchen wall was covered by a thin sheet of metal and the wood behind it caught on fire. The heat while he was cooking was what sparked the fire.
“The day after the fire, I felt like giving up,” Bermejo said in a soft voice. “But I have a son and a daughter and I didn’t want them to think that their father is a quitter.”
Bermejo hired new contractors to repair the restaurant after the fire, which he credits with doing good work. He said that he is fortunate that his insurance company will be paying for the repairs.
Prior to Zio Luigi, Bermejo had worked at Italian restaurants in Manhattan for 14 years.
His restaurant focuses on offering fresh pastas and “new world Italian” cuisine.
The restaurant is located next door to the now-defunct PJ Horgan’s. It is not part of the parcel of property, which includes the former Center Cinema and Dime Bank, that is expected to be developed.
Bermejo has a 15-year lease.