By Joshua Maloni
Sunday is not only Cinco de Mayo, it’s also the fifth anniversary of The Spicey Pickle. The Center Street Mexican eatery will mark this milestone by doing what it does each May 5: throwing a party.
“We’re going to have a breakfast burrito. We’re going to open up a little bit early. We’re going to do steak and eggs, and you can build it the way you want – with onions and peppers on it, different salsas and sauces,” owner Aaron Rotella said. “And then we’re going to have the piñata-smashing for the kids, which is always fun for them. Then we’re going to go into our taco-eating contest. … We’re going to have the $5 burritos, celebrating five years. You can get carnitas – pork – or a ground beef burrito. But then we also have our other stuff, and I’ll have giveaways. I may have some cookies.”
The Spicey Pickle will be open from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m., with the papier-mâché-pulverizing commencing at 3 p.m., and the eating contest to follow. In addition to the breakfast burrito, the first 50 customers will receive a free taco.
“It’s always a fun, interesting day,” Rotella said.
The inside of a mammoth Dorito burrito.
When he first opened in 2014, Rotella said his motivation for starting a business was a love for Mexican food. In fact, his house was home to a popular “Taco Tuesday” night, and Rotella also famously made the handheld meal for golfers at the Niagara Frontier Country Club.
He described his menu at the time as “upscale fast-food.” Five years later, The Spicey Pickle has a great reputation for loading quality ingredients into reasonably priced tacos, burritos, salads and snacks.
Historical Association of Lewiston Vice President Leandra Collesano called it, “A fast, healthy alternative for Lewiston! I love the bowls as a quick lunch option. Everything is fresh and they are never stingy with the ingredients. All the staff is welcoming and friendly, and it’s great to grab a window seat or patio table and people watch while you eat.”
Lewiston Police Department officer Brandon Hall noted, “Great people, great vibe, and great food. I visit regularly, because it’s a great alternative to the typical ‘fast food’ places.”
Patron John McEvoy said he enjoys, “Not just the hot sauce, but the ‘Pedro’s Death Sauce!’ Not to mention the ‘Nooch’ burrito, which is the size of someone’s head for $8!”
You & Me Boutique owner Laura Mann Falsetti simply stated, “Fresh, healthy, and quick!”
The Spicey Pickle is well-known for inventive specials that pair meat, cheese and sauce with nontraditional ingredients such as pasta, stuffed peppers, blackened mahi-mahi or Doritos (this one has since been permanently added to the menu).
“I always just like keeping it fresh,” Rotella said. “I’ll change things up – I don’t want them to get stagnant or boring. So, having the daily specials attracts different people when they come in, even if they’ve been here before.
“Some people always get the special. One guy works for National Grid. Every time he comes in, whatever the special is, he gets it.
“I think it attracts people, because it’s always something different. It’s exciting for people.”
Reflecting on his time in the Village of Lewiston, Rotella said, “It’s gone well. Every year, we seem to be getting busier and busier. The locals help support everything we do through the wintertime. And then, come summertime, the tourists and all the other people start coming through, which helps us out greatly.”
“I’m very pleased with what’s been going for the last five years. It’s better than I anticipated,” he added.
In addition to feeding locals and tourists, Rotella has awarded patrons with big-ticket prizes – including a smart TV – while also regularly raising funds for local nonprofits including the VFW.
“If I’m helping somebody, it makes me feel good inside,” he said. “Some people need it and just appreciate it.”
The Spicey Pickle is located at 463 Center St. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/TheSpiceyPickle.
A past eating competition.
The Spicey Pickle.