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Celebrating Latinx Heritage Month on Long Island: Punta Cana Dominican Grill

John Romero, owner of Punta Cana Dominican Grill

This interview is part of our celebration of Latinx-owned business owners on Long Island. To view our recent collection of Latinx-owned businesses, click here.

John Romero is a Westbury native whose restaurants reflect the cooking he grew up with.  His menu is inspired by his mother’s and grandmother’s recipes, with a few tweaks made over the years.  He loves being able to work alongside his wife, Jenna and his brothers, Christopher and Steven. We recently caught up with John to learn a little more about Punta Cana Dominican Grill:

+ What does Long Island mean to you and why is it so important?

  • I was born and raised here so it means everything to me. That is one of the main reasons I brought Dominican food to the area. I plan on staying here forever and I wanted to bring food to people locally that I would enjoy myself. 

+ How did you get started with your business?

  • I worked with my parents in their bodegas initially when I was younger.  When I went to college, I felt that it wasn’t for me, personally.  It was then that I decided to open up my first spot. 

+ How would you describe your restaurant and brand?

  • I consider it to be fast casual. We try to be more on the modern side of things. I would say it is more Dominican-inspired than “authentic.” We’re trying to be, more or less, the “Chipotle of Dominican Food,” instead of being a traditional Dominican restaurant.  

+ What are some of your recent successes?

  • We started our first location in Westbury back in 2015 and since then have expanded to two more locations (Huntington and Rockville Centre) within about a twelve months frame. Other than that, our goal is to basically keep going and keep growing with more Long Island locations… and simply expand from there. 

+ Who are some of your favorite Latin-owned restaurants on Long Island? 

  • A few of my favorites are The Cuban and Margarita’s Cafe. Their owner, Willie Martinez, is one of my inspirations.  I haven’t met him yet but he is certainly someone I want to be like. He started with a very small spot in the East Meadow-Uniondale area and now he is the “big dawg” when it comes to Latin food on Long Island and now Queens as well. 

+ Any advice for others out there who’d like to start their own restaurant or business?

  • Dedication is key! Never give up and make sure you are starting something that you are passionate about. 

Learn More:

You can find Punta Cana Dominican Grill on Yelp (Westbury, Huntington & Rockville Centre) and follow them at @puntacanagrill