When new owner John P. Krumpter and manager Sean Liberman took over El Dorado in Port Jefferson Station last April, they began to make some changes at the restaurant.
They have installed 36 new flat-screen TVs to bring the total up to 42, added more than four times as many types of beer, and changed about half of the menu. Now, nine months later, Liberman said the changes have put El Dorado in line to "compete and win" over the likes of The Bench in Stony Brook and Hurricane Grill in Port Jefferson Station, as well as Buffalo Wild Wings in Centereach – which just so happens to be the former location of a second El Dorado restaurant.
"It’s fusing a sports bar with southern grill," Liberman said. "We want to be the go-to spot for a great beer selection and a way to see the game."
Although they have ceased the classic car nights for which El Dorado had become known, Liberman said the restaurant has nearly doubled its bar business since they arrived.
"We definitely brought in a new crowd around the bar," Liberman said. "A lot of interest came in on the craft beers. It’s a big market on Long Island."
The restaurant's original owner, Jim DiVillio, who opened El Dorado 12 years ago before leaving it in new hands to start Cabo Fresh in Stony Brook, said he has heard good things about the new ownership. "The vision, I think, is more fitting for that spot," DiVillio said.
There have been challenges associated with the transition, but Liberman said the restaurant has been coping well.
"This restaurant is very well established in the community," he said. "There were a lot of frequent guests. There was a little resistance to change ... But I think we’ve overcome that. We’ve built relationships, especially with ones who are repeated guests, and I feel like we’ve gotten a lot of good criticism and many guest compliments."