Baldwin Chamber of Commerce members, elected officials and community leaders welcomed a new business to town: R.A.J. Mexican Grill.
Officially opened last month, the restaurant joins a diverse spread of eateries on what has been appropriately nicknamed “restaurant row” — a chain of restaurants along Merrick Road in Baldwin.
“We know that this is probably the hardest job out here, being a small business owner,” said Hempstead Town Clerk Kate Murray, who attended a grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony alongside other Town of Hempstead and Nassau County officials outside the business on Nov. 17.
She congratulated co-owners Angelo Bisraithe and Justin Pierre, who used an oversized pair of scissors to cut a ribbon to signify their grand opening.
Murray was joined by Councilman Chris Carini, Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, Nassau County Executive and Baldwinite Laura Curran, County Legislator Debra Mulé and Karen Montalbano, of the Baldwin Civic Association.
Restaurant row is “a very smart place to be for you guys,” said Mulé, who welcomed the pair.
Bisraithe, a Baldwin resident, said he opened up his restaurant to “better serve the community,” and provide the best taco in town.
“There were not any taco restaurants in the area,” he said, “so we wanted to bring the community what’s needed, and we opened up.”
Officials and civic leaders wished Bisraithe and Pierre success and sampled some of the dishes, including beef tacos and a chicken burrito bowl.
The move comes as Baldwin undergoes a process to revitalize its downtown area. Nearby R.A.J. Mexican Grill, empty storefronts can be seen along Grand Avenue.
But residents and officials are hoping that the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, for which Baldwin received a $10 million grant from the state last year, will restore the central area of Baldwin to the once bustling hub it was about 20 years ago.
The restaurant also joins a lengthy list of culturally diverse dining options in Baldwin, including Indian, Thai, Caribbean, Italian, Irish and Dominican.
“They are here to serve the community with their delicious Mexican food, providing a very diverse menu while serving healthy and clean food, focusing on a healthier community,” the Chamber of Commerce said in a Facebook post.
Chamber members encouraged local residents and visitors alike to shop local and support small businesses.
Heeding that advice, R.A.J. Mexican Grill participated in the recent Split the Bill NY initiative that took place on Nov. 12. The program invited people to support local restaurants by having them dine in or order out from any of the participating restaurants and then be reimbursed for half of their bills.
There were no fees for restaurants to become involved, and many of the eateries saw a successful day.