After kitchen fire and a remodel, Habañero Hots is cooking again

After being closed for about nine months following a kitchen fire and a remodel, Habañero Hots is open again with a new look.

After nine months of being closed, a popular restaurant known for its hot and spicy offerings has reopened its front doors.

A minor kitchen fire at Habañero Hots last October prompted owner John DeNigiris to announce the restaurant would be closed until further notice.

After weeks of faithful customers asking when the establishment would reopen, the popular Mexican restaurant officially reopened July 12.

“There wasn’t a lot of structural damage, but the wiring was torched,” DeNigris said. “So we took the opportunity, and because of COVID regulations, to do a complete remodel of the bar and dining area.”

DeNigris said he would have loved to have reopened earlier in the year, but all of the equipment he replaced took as long as three months to arrive. In addition, finding new material and features for the remodel and having it delivered and installed was not an overnight endeavor, he said.

The remodel involved installing a new floor, brand new upholstery on the furniture and brick accents on the walls, along with fiber-optic lighting to give the 40-year-old business a “fresh, and kind of new feel,” DeNigris said.

“People are just so glad we’re back,” he said. “They’ve been super patient, but I know they’ve definitely missed us. We’re just glad to be back and glad the community showed up to support us when we did.”

While the restaurant’s interior is different, the menu has not changed. Habanero Hots still serves up its traditional Mexican fare and offers its specialty margaritas and more than 180 varieties of tequila.

For the time being, the restaurant will only be open five days a week, but DeNigris is hoping to return to its regular schedule in the coming weeks.

He said 90% of his staff has returned to work as well, but is still looking for additional wait staff and dishwashers to go back to a full crew.

“It was a tedious task,” he said of the remodel. “But the thing we missed the most was the camaraderie of the staff, and out customers. It’s good to see everyone coming back out again. It’s starting to feel a little more normal.”

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