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Chilean eatery family-owned, always fresh
Bridge brings flair to Main Street
Stepping into The Bridge Restaurant is like stepping into the Luci home.
The family-owned restaurant relocated from Springville to Main Street in Porterville on Jan. 31. Andy Luci and his soon-to-be-wife Theresa Martinez, along with his parents, Carolina and Carlos, and his sister, Lorena McLemore, opened the Chilean eatery on Bridge Street in Springville two-plus years ago and quickly gained a faithful following.
“We all grew up around the kitchen, that was the center place for every family function,” Andy, 41, said. “We want people to come in here and feel happy, feel at home.”
The restaurant at 178 N. Main St. boasts many of the Chilean classics, including four kinds of empanadas, Pastel de Choclo and the Classic Completo.
“Everything we make is from scratch. Everything is made fresh daily. We want it to be like we make it at home,” Andy said.
They also offer traditional American burgers, sandwiches and salads. It is open for sit down or take out lunch and dinner 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and is open to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
“Chilean food is earthy and spicy but not spicy hot,” Andy said.
“It is flavorful. It’s different,” Theresa, 30, said.
“You can’t get it anywhere around here. The closest restaurant is Los Angeles,” Andy said.
It also has German and Italian influences as evidenced by the Classic Completo — a large all-beef hot dog on a homemade bun topped with avocado, tomato, onion, grilled saurkraut and homemade mayonnaise, served with French Fries or green salad for $7.95.
Seafood is a Chilean mainstay and The Bridge offers fish when they can get it fresh. Soups, desserts and dough for gourmet personal-sized pizzas are made fresh daily.
Pinned to a board are the day’s featured soups and fish dishes. They are working on transferring their beer and wine license to the new location.
Moving to Porterville was something they had been looking to do and landing on Main Street was something they coveted due to the many boutique shops and the opening of the South County Justice Center later this year.
They learned through a friend the space was going to be available at the end of 2012. They inquired about it and a week later were signing the paperwork.
“It was just so crazy,” Theresa said. “It happened so fast.”
The address has been home to a couple of bakery and sandwich shops over the years. Crave Cafe and Bakery closed its doors after being open for about a year.
“Our name has gotten a good reputation in two years up in Springville,” Theresa said.
“People have heard of us or have eaten with us already. Whatever the previous reputation was we are not too concerned with it.”
The couple, who has been together for eight years, went into business for themselves after the company they worked for shut its doors. They had some experience in the food industry as caterers and Andy’s mom owned a restaurant in Brooklyn, NY, and catered at the World Trade Center, the United Nations and Rockefeller Center.
“For the longest time we kind of put it off because a restaurant can take over your entire life,” Theresa said. “So when the opportunity presented it we just said lets give it a try and see what happens.”
Putting together a menu and overall business plan was fairly simple thanks to mom.
The menu is basically the same one that she used while in New York.
“We wanted to make it Chilean,” Andy said. “We wanted to make our favorites, what we would always eat.”
Future plans for The Bridge include holding a grand opening, catering and expanding its baked goods selection. To place an order or make a reservation, call 793-2583. The Bridge also has a Facebook page.