What started as a favor for a friend parlayed into something greater for this Bay Shore resident.
Back in his early 20s, West Islip native Ricky Ruiz — a man with no bartending experience — was asked to man the bar at his go-to spot for a beer, the now-defunct Shenanigans Pub & Restaurant in North Babylon.
“I came in one day and my friend Michelle asked if I ever thought about guest bartending,” he said.
Without much hesitation, he jumped behind the bar where he soon became an immediate hit amongst the locals.
After impressing, he was asked to come back for an encore, which eventually turned into a weekly shift.
“I am a people person, a talker,” said Ruiz. “It was a natural fit.”
From there, the dream to one day open his own bar was born. That goal, however, was put on hold for about a decade while the West Islip native was working as a technician at Cablevision, getting married, and having two children.
Now fast forward to last month, everything aligned perfectly for the 38-year-old who purchased The Loyal Dog Ale House in Lindenhurst.
“This whole time owning my own bar was always at the back of my mind,” he told GreaterBabylon a couple weeks after signing the lease.
Ruiz looked at dozens of bars across Long Island before deciding on The Loyal Dog, which he will be transitioning to a neighborhood bar called The Linden later this year.
“I really liked the location of this place,” said Ruiz on his decision to take over the spot at 288 Montauk Highway.
Since becoming the owner, Ruiz quickly gave the spot a facelift with a paint job, new TVs and decor. He kept the pool table and added a new shuffleboard for the gamers.
As The Loyal Dog turns into The Linden, Ruiz says the biggest difference will be what’s on tap.
There will also be an especial emphasis on having a personal touch with his patrons.
“I want people to come here, feel relaxed, and our bartenders to know the regulars drinks before they sit down,” he said.
According to Ruiz, The Linden’s cocktail menu will have a mix of staple drinks and a rotation of new concoctions.
“We always want to be changing things up,” he said. “Give people new things to try.”
For food, The Linden will be serving up bar classics such as burgers and wings, but there will also be a family favorite on the menu: Puerto Rican empanadas.
“My mother makes the best empanadas and we have that recipe,” said Ruiz. “People are going to love them.”
Scroll down to see photos of Ruiz’s new venture.