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Seeking input on outdoor Puerto Rican pig roast facility under development [Holyoke, MA]

Howdy, my employer wants to open a real Puerto Rican lechonera as are found on the island. Lechon is whole roast pig, marinaded and slow-cooked for 6 hours over charcoal rotisserie. The key is crisp skin with some fat and super tender roast meat. It is garlicky and salty and yum; a new kind of barbeque, really, because there is no sauce. Sides are yellow rice and beans, and other traditional accompaniments. You can visit the pits, check out the cooking, and for about $10 get a big helping of pork, with rice and beans, and another side. Meat alone would be $12-15/lb.

Cooking lechon is generally a backyard, you-gotta-know-the-guy deal in our neighborhoods. Well, we know the guys.

Do you see room in the crowded bbq space for another kind of roasted pork? Would customers come because they seek Caribbean/Hispanic food, or would they come because it's BBQ? I want to learn more about non-Hispanic customer needs.

We're in Holyoke, run an urban farm, that's where the facility is.

THANKS CHOWHOUNDS
Annie

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  1. Most excellent!!!!! Count me in!

      1. Sounds awesome. But as with any endeavor such as this, I think location is crucial. If the facility is located in Holyoke as you mention, I doubt you will get much business from Boston area patrons with the exception of those already in the area for another reason or those passing through. I think a lechonera would do more business if it was within a reasonable drive (say 45 minutes max) of Boston. But I wish you the best of luck as it sounds amazing.

        1. Advertise on biker websites. We ride anywhere for great food.

          1. Lord yes! But in Boston. I''d pitch a tent and live there.

            Your post is probably more suited to the southern NE board.

            1. Annie

              Is the picture the actual pit in question?

              1. As others have said: totally awesome! But better closer to Boston. If it were within 30 minutes drive I'd be there 3 x month at the very last.

                1. I would LOVE this. I'd come because it's BBQ, though the Caribbean/Hispanic angle is secondarily appealing. BUT no, regrettably, I wouldn't come to Holyoke for it.

                  1. I think there's plenty of room for roast pork, and the PR angle just makes it more interesting. As others have said, I'd probably not make the hike from Boston often but I think that with Worcester, Springfield, much of Connecticut, and southern Vermont to draw from, you could do pretty well without us.

                    1. Lechoneras are usually noisy, communal, and relatively inexpensive for the amount and quality of the food you get...I say usually because in both PR and in, say, Lawrence MA, quality varies.

                      If you're going to do lechon, I'd offer traditional accompaniments or typical lechonera dishes. Fried plantains, blood sausage (morcilla is everywhere in PR), mofongo, etc.

                      Similar to "real" Mexican food, there's healthy skepticism in NE as to whether you can get "real" BBQ of any kind (KC, NC, etc, let alone PR). So I'd go as authentically criolla as I could.

                      Would I drive there? Well, as I live next to Lawrence, MA, it would depend on the CH reviews!

                      Best of luck!

                      1. In Holyoke? Where? Is this open now? Can I get delicious roast pig and yellow rice now???

                        I'm in WMa with frequent travel to Boston, and I'd visit and talk the hell outta something like this. DO IT!!!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: LilBrownBat

                          Since I work in Holyoke, I think this is the perfect location, !

                        2. Awesome idea

                          Ditto all the comments regarding location and concept

                          Have you considered some kind of partnership with any of the local farms closer to Boston such as in the Concord, MA area?

                          1. Keep it in WMa. I'll be a regular. In fact, where can I get some now???

                            1. WOW!! We are so grateful for your input! The lechonera is slated to be open for our annual Fall Festival on September 27 between 12-6 on our farm site. Our organization is Nuestras Raices ("Our Roots"), and our urban farm is located on the Connecticut River at 24 Jones Ferry Road. It is a take-out facility, which is all the city allows us under our agricultural zoning designation. Santos Romero is our Pitmaster, and we are planning for 6-10 pigs served at noon and the next round around 2pm. If there is any change I will post here, but we have a good plan, and a little funding to upgrade the facility, and a wicked passion for lechon! Annie

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: cupfish

                                Verdadero lechon Boricua aqui en Massachusetts! Buena suerte con el negocio nuevo para Senor Romero.

                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                  Ha! Don Santos will be thrilled! (byom = bring your own machete to the pits)

                                  Annie

                                2. re: cupfish

                                  I've heard of your organization - more power to you! Please keep us posted on this, and if you have a Facebook page, post there too. I have lots of friends (who also have friends) who would love to be there for the fall festival, and Facebook is the easiest way to get the word out to them.

                                3. Within the Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield area you should get a decent draw. Will this be seasonal? That whole backyard vibe/popup/outlaw restaurant thing sure won't fly in the states, though

                                  1. I live in Holyoke and think this is a fantastic idea. There is a dearth of good and interesting places to eat, especially ones that are open at night. In this city, I suspect where you locate it will be critical. I would come both because of the Caribbean food and the BBQ. I suspect most non-Caribbean residents would come because it is BBQ. I wish you all the best luck.

                                    1. we are already planning out visit for sept 27. will that be the first day it's open?

                                      2 Replies
                                        1. re: LilBrownBat

                                          Would love details too! Hmm, Lechonera on Sept 27, The Big E on the 28th...? I feel like Templeton the rat just considering it!