The Longwood Family Restaurant - formerly Hugo's and recently Amici Miei - will open by the end of the month, and its new owner is promising to be there for a very long time.
"The restaurant business is sweat," said Sulevyman Gunayain, 39, sole owner of the building located at 938 E. Baltimore Pike in East Marlborough Township near Dunkin Donuts and across the street from the Longwood Fire Company. "If you don't sweat, you don't make it. "I'm a hands-on guy. I'm old-school. I'm not afraid of work."
The restaurant will open at 6 a.m. for breakfast and close at 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends. Gunayain will be there every hour of every day, even the weekends. "After this is established in a couple of years I might take a week off for vacation," said Gunayain, who hails from Turkey. "But I'm going to be here and know my customers by name, even where they like to sit."
And there's a wide variety of seating options at Longwood Family Restaurant. There's a huge outdoor deck, which will be heated in the colder months. New padded seating booths were installed in the main section and there's the traditional seating spots.
Gunayain said he will be offering only the finest cuts of meat. "I'll have the best seafood and steak - only USDA choice," he said. "I'll have the best scallop and shrimp around."
Like its name, the Longwood Family Restaurant will be mostly a family affair. Gunayain's wife, Ayse, and their children Hasain, 17, Coskun, and Askin, 10, and his sister, Hakize Gunayain, will assist. His friend, Joe Cook, will also help frequently. Gunayain is looking to hire busboys, servers, hostesses and kitchen help.
Gunayain knows it's the food that will keep his customers coming back, and that's why just about everything on the menu is homemade. "Wait until you taste my New York style cheesecake," Gunayain said. "I make it from scratch. And my carrot cake and soups. I make everything here, and I make it from scratch. It's homemade. I don't cut any corners."
Gunayain said he will have seasonal specials every day of the week. "Maybe on Monday I'll have all-you-can-eat chicken pot pie," he said. "Then every Monday that'll be the special. People will know."
Longwood Family Restaurant will also have a take-out business. Gunayain said his prices will be very fair across the entire menu, with generous portions. "Most people will end up taking some food home," Cook said.
There is also BYOB with no corking fee.
Gunayain is no stranger to the restaurant business. He started working at age 6 for his father, who owned the Golden Eagle Restaurant in New Jersey. For the last 12 years, he worked at the Golden Castle Restaurant in Wilmington, Del. He left there when the opportunity arose to buy a restaurant for himself. "I've done it all," he said. "I've been a busboy, a dishwasher, a manager, a cook. I know the business."
So why did he name it Longwood Family Restaurant, when he's worked for a "Golden" establishment all his life? "We're right next the most beautiful place - Longwood Gardens - and Longwood was just right for the area," he said.
The restaurant can be tough to get to, especially for motorists traveling on Route 1 south, because of a concrete median. Some have said this led to the demise of Amici Miei. Cook disagrees.
Brusstar's is here and so is Dunkin Donuts, and I don't see them going out of business," Cook said. "We have good food and good service, people will come, and they'll come back."
"I'm excited," Gunayain said. "This is a great spot. All I need to do is get (customers) in here once, and I know they'll be back."