Update (Dec. 30): Work on the Bubba’s expansion is supposed to start soon is the hope; ownership is just waiting on some town approvals, GreaterBayShore was told.
Original Post (April 1):
It will be Bubba’s Burritos, only bigger.
Well, not the burritos themselves — the laws of physics dictate they couldn’t get any bigger – but the perpetually packed California-style burrito bar on Main Street in Islip is about to double in size.
It will soon be expanding into the space next door.
“We recently received news that our neighbor, Anna Re Fine Jewelry, intends to move locations,” said Bubba’s Burrito Bar owner Timothy Henriksen, 32, of Islip. “This was a no-brainer as we can take over their storefront and create one bigger, better Bubba’s.
“The new Bubba’s will have more seating, phone lines, kitchen space, and a bar,” he continued. “We have already received approval from the town Planning Board and hope to begin construction within the next couple of months.”
Henriksen said the expansion is necessary due to the volume of orders Bubba’s is fulfilling on a daily basis.
The business had tried to move elsewhere on Main Street but, according to Henriksen, was left in the lurch after a costly, year-long planning process.
“We had no other choice but to walk away from our plan,” he said.
But the end result might be even better. Bubba’s won’t have to vacate its beloved, original spot at 513 Main Street — where Bubba’s opened in 2009 — yet will double the number of interior seats to 32, with an additional 10 seats at the bar.
The outdoor patio will remain as-is, offering 16 seats for dining in the warmer months.
Henriksen, a lifelong Islip resident, had been working at a start-up hedge fund company creating trading algorithms when he was laid off in 2007 and first started developing his idea for a burrito bar.
“I’ve always had a love of cooking and entertaining,” he said. “I got the idea to open Bubba’s when visiting my sister in Santa Monica. At the time, Long Island did not have any California style burritos so I knew there was a need.”
He’s quick to admit that friends and relatives thought he was crazy — especially since he had no formal cooking experience.
“But I knew my passion would drive the business, ” he said. “I was fortunate to have worked at one of the busiest restaurant and bars on Fire Island, Flynn’s, for many years serving as a food runner and bar back. This experience really allowed me to get a good glimpse on how a successful restaurant runs.”
One thing that’s worked for Bubba’s is reinventing the burrito.
Sure, it’s California in vibe and overall concept, but you might be hard pressed to find chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, fried potatoes, bacon, cheese, sour cream and Baja sauce (Guilt Trip) in a burrito served up in Santa Monica.
But Long Islanders love it.
“I think it’s mainly their burritos and tacos that bring in a crowd, but also the vibe,” said Bubba’s super fan Ryan Gillies, an insurance salesman with the James F. Sutton Agency of East Islip. “The Land and Sea is something that’s out of this world.”
(The Land and Sea burrito is packed with marinated steak, grilled shrimp and rice topped with a Baja sauce.)
“I’m sure people are excited to see one of the most successful businesses in town growing,” said Gillies.
The new, larger Bubba’s will still have the “same type of vibe, but the decor may take on a slight change,” Henriksen said. “I have some new ideas I want to incorporate.”
The plan is to be closed only briefly to connect the two spaces.
“From the start we always had a good crowd, but through the years it truly skyrocketed and became more than I ever imagined,” said Henriksen. “Currently, we have customers all over the island from Montauk to New York City and it still amazes me every day.”
Editor’s note: This report was later edited to remove timeline predictions for the start and end to construction.
Photo Credit: @bubbasburritobar on Instagam
Below: More great #bubbasburritobar scenes we found on Instagram.