When songwriters Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo wrote the theme song to the show Cheers, they had a place like BLT in mind. At any point during the day the old fashioned dining establishment is filled with folks who know each other on a first name basis. When a new patron enters BLT, they leave with new friends. And when one of those friends needs a hand, everyone else rallies together to help.
Longtime, BLT chef, Jose Blanco recently purchased the establishment from Steven and Maria Sciari. When the former owners decided to retire, they made a generous offer to their loyal chef. When the new small business owner decided to brighten up his first business establishment, he found small but sentimental miracles in each of his regular customers. Marty Thompson, Chuck and Tom Lohmann helped with painting the restaurant and custom bar area. They are also currently working on getting him new flooring. Roe and Bob Cousins helped with the renovations and brought some large scale catering business to BLT.
Jose Blanco began working at BLT in 2005. He is the proud father of two sons and a beautiful baby girl. Blanco starts his day off, cooking 15 lbs of bacon every morning. Two of his early bird regulars help out Jose by opening the place to turn on the grill so he can spend some more time with his family.
“It’s exciting and scary at the same time,” Blanco says about becoming a small business owner. “I love my customers… at least three quarters of them are regulars. I know all of them so well. They are my friends, not just customers.”
We asked Blanco what his dream renovation would include. He tells Smithtown Today that if money were no object, he’d start by making the grill much bigger and expand the kitchen. Blanco says that BLT could benefit from a bigger sign, to help draw attention to the passersby and increase foot traffic.
BLT relies on word of mouth to keep business strong. Blanco also supports his neighboring store owners, co-oping with local shops, like Garguilo’s bakery for bread and the Mercep Brother’s butcher for bacon, beef and other BLT staples.
If you love feel good stories and people watching, we strongly recommend you visit Jose Blanco and his band of regular patrons. The food is outstanding and the service is even better!
BLT is open from 6AM-4PM Tuesday – Sunday (Monday Closed)
BLT is located at 521 Lake Avenue is St. James