July 21, 2023 By Michael Dorgan
A new restaurant that specializes in Mexican fast-casual food has opened on Jackson Avenue after much delay.
Hot Peppers, a company that offers traditional Mexican fare such as tacos, quesadillas, nachos and burritos, opened on Tuesday, July 18, at 27-35 Jackson Ave., a five-story office building that has recently undergone renovations.
The restaurant is the company’s third following on from its Oakland Gardens eatery on Springfield Boulevard which opened in 2018, and its Astoria location on Steinway Street, which opened in 2021.
The company has taken a 2,500-square-foot space on the ground floor of the Jackson Avenue building.
The Hot Peppers space is one of five adjoining ground-floor units at the red-brick building which have been transformed into expansive commercial units with high windows. The building was built in 1965.
The businesses at the four other units have already opened. The units are being occupied by a Paris Baguette bakery and restaurants Mito Asian Fusion, which specializes in Asian cuisine, and Dun Huang, which offers hand-pulled noodles from northwestern China. LIC Dental Associates, which also has a practice in Hunters Point, has also opened at the building.
Hot Peppers is owned by Vishal Patel, who lives in the Glen Oaks area of eastern Queens.
Patel has two investors in Hot Peppers including Devesh Patel, who is a lifelong friend of his. The trio were all born in Flushing and are of Indian heritage, Devesh said. They also operate an all-day breakfast restaurant in Oakland Gardens called Yolk-Up.
Devesh said the trio are delighted to have opened in Long Island City despite having encountered setbacks.
“We were delayed by about nine months as we were waiting on Con Edison to install a gas line for us,” Devesh said.
On opening day, the company offered residents one free meal each and ended up serving more than 2,100 customers, Devesh said.
“The lines were out the door and down the street. We were very happy with the turnout,” Devesh said.
He said the company’s aim is to offer food with the freshest and healthiest ingredients, noting that Hot Peppers does not use any frozen products.
The company’s meat — which includes beef, steak, and chicken —comes in halal style, meaning the animals are slaughtered in a humane way, Devesh said.
Workers at the eatery prepare the food on an assembly line in front of customers.
Customers start the process by selecting a base option like a burrito bowl, tacos, or quesadillas at the white-colored counter. The customer then selects his/her preferred ingredients such as meats and vegetables, and these are topped off with spreads and dips like guacamole, sour cream, or salsa. All of the company’s sauces are made in-store, he said.
Devesh said the company has a lot of vegan and vegetarian options on its menu, too.
Hot Peppers also offers soda, lemonade and bubble tea.
Customers can take their food to go or sit down inside the premises. There are around a dozen high stools at the front of the restaurant along a long L-shaped table. One side of the table faces out onto Jackson Avenue.
Devesh said the company plans on adding around 25 more seats inside of the premises, which has black- and red-bricked walls. A bicycle is hanging on one section of the wall near the counter and its wheels are used “O” letters to spell “food.”
Devesh said the operators have been happy with how business has gone over the last few days.
He said they were drawn to the location given the high foot traffic along Jackson Avenue. Devesh said he expects the area to get even busier over the next few years given there are a number of high-rise apartment buildings currently undergoing construction along the street.
“The traffic that walks by here is just ridiculous, it’s a great neighborhood,” Devesh said.
Opening hours are Sundays through Thursdays from 10:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays from 10:45 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The opening of Hot Peppers comes about a month after Juliet’s Pizza opened across the road from the establishment.