One of Long Island’s first-ever empanada restaurants is adding a new location.
Island Empanada, which has spaces in Medford and Ronkonkoma, is planning a third spot in Rocky Point. Owners say the new location at 29 Rocky Point Yaphank Road will open next spring.
The empanada-making company was founded in 2011 by Lake Ronkonkoma resident Roy Pelaez.
After working 20 years in bars and restaurants, Roy was eager to open his own shop.
Roy, who learned his empanada-creating techniques in Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, said before he opened his store, he would have to drive to New York City to buy the fried or baked pastry.
“There just weren’t any empanada restaurants on Long Island at the time,” Roy explained.
So, he decided to take a leap of faith and open his own business with the help of his wife, Kathy.
Together they concocted a menu that had empanadas with a variety of fillings, like beef, chicken, pork, seafood, and vegetables.
“We were nervous because there were no restaurants to compare it to,” said Roy. “But I felt that we had a really good product and thought we would do well.”
And, he says, it was an instant success.
“Since we’ve opened, we’ve been busy,” said Roy. “We are truly blessed.”
That’s what prompted the Pelaezs to open their second location in Medford back in 2015. They also rolled out food trucks, which go to street festivals and private parties.
While being out and about with his food trucks, Roy says, people from Rocky Point have been estatic about the prospect of a local empanada restaurant.
“When I spoke to fans at festivals, everyone we see from Rocky Point is happy that are heading out that way,” he said.
The new location shares the same shopping center as Brian’s Aquarium, across the street from Kohl’s.
Top: Island Empanada owner Roy Pelaez with a worker at the Great South Bay Bay Fest. (File photo)