14 years ago, Patchogue was not the up-and-coming town it is today. David Bustamante had a vision: to open a restaurant that pays homage to his Colombian heritage.
David had never worked in a restaurant. He went to the University at Albany and majored in criminal justice. After college, he tried a career in criminal justice for a short time before he decided to pursue something he was more passionate about.
The idea was born when David moved to Patchogue with his family. Two bars had already been opened- Reese’s Pub and Brick House Brewery- but no family restaurants, let alone any that served Colombian food. Sensing an opportunity, David decided to open an authentic Colombian restaurant with his dad and sister.
The Bustamantes’ were able to get an experienced chef from Queens to work for them and help create the menu. The chef taught David and the other cooks for 5 years before leaving; by then, David and his crew were able to take over and grow the restaurant to what it is today.
Although Gallo had all the necessary elements of a great restaurant, they were still struggling a decade ago. The town wasn’t booming yet and some days the tables stayed empty. But the Bustamantes’ had the ambition to keep going.
Gallo demonstrates how to use one’s own unique cultural capital to create economic prosperity and social diversity. They serve real, authentic Colombian food. They avoid typical Mexican dishes because they don’t want to blend in with other Mexican restaurants that have saturated the industry. They want to keep their Colombian heritage alive and stand out amongst the crowd.
At Gallo, everyone is family. They have a loyal customer base, including many dedicated diners who come in several times a week. They take the time to create long lasting relationships with the people they serve.
They treat their employees like family, too. They encourage their immigrant workers to take ESL courses and familiarize themselves with local leaders. In a town that has made great strides regarding immigrant relations, Gallo stands as a testament to progress. In the restaurant business and beyond, the Bustamantes’ seek to lead, rather than follow.
The space combines Colombian tradition with modern dining. With Spanish style tiling and old wood furnishes, the décor cultivates a unique environment. It is a hip spot infused with historical culture.
In another feat of Bustamante innovation, Gallo was the first restaurant in town to add French doors to the storefront. Just one walk down Main Street will prove the trend has caught on. They keep the doors open in the warmer months, providing a nice breeze and a great view of Patchogue’s famed four corners.
When the Bustamantes’ first opened Gallo, there was only a kitchen; the bar and everything else had to be renovated. David was eventually able to buy the building and make the upstairs portion of the building into a catering hall that is frequently booked throughout the year. The hall includes a private bar, a lounge, a dance floor and can fit up to 80 people. Everything from sweet sixteens, communions, bridal showers, weddings, and corporate events have taken place in this dynamic space.
Whats on the Menu
Many of the recipes at Gallo have been passed down through generations of Bustamantes. All of the food is made in house; everything is fresh and nothing is frozen. The most popular items are the authentic Colombian dishes that include roasted chicken, steak, and seafood. The portions here are huge and are very reasonably priced. The best sellers are the campers platter and the skirt steak. All the meat is grilled or charbroiled. Nothing is ever too spicy. Although they try to avoid typical Mexican dishes, they have begun to offer simple eats like quesadillas and fajitas. The menu is huge and every year it grows. This year, they added surf and turf and a few other items.
A centerpiece of the Gallo repertoire is aji- an avocado based sauce that can be used as a marinade, salad dressing or a dipping sauce. It is similar to the traditional Colombian sauce called aji, but the Colombian version is cilantro-based. Aji has become so popular that David has started to bottle and sell it. He hopes to start selling it in markets soon.
Gallo is located at
3 E Main St, Patchogue, NY 11772
Hours of Operation
Mon – Thu: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Fri – Sat: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Sun: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm