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Friday, April 19, 2024

Puerto Rican fast-food franchise working on first Ocala restaurant

A fast-food chain that serves authentic Puerto Rican food is working on its first restaurant in Ocala.

Martin’s BBQ will take over the site at 2601 SW 19th Avenue Road. The restaurant is replacing the former location of The Gathering Cafe, which moved to downtown Ocala in March.

Future site of Martin's BBQ in Ocala
Future site of Martin’s BBQ in Ocala (December 15, 2023)

The building has since been demolished and the site has been cleared for a new structure.

According to the company’s website, the Ocala restaurant will open “by 2024.”

Founded in 1962, Martin’s BBQ serves rotisserie chickens and authentic Puerto Rican cuisine.

Employee cooking rotisserie chickens at Martin's BBQ
Martin’s BBQ features authentic Puerto Rican food and rotisserie chickens. (Photo: Martin’s BBQ)

Featured dishes include arroz amarillo (yellow rice), yuca (cassava), maduros (sweet plantains), carnitas (fried pork), chuletas (pork chops), and mofongo (mashed plantains), among many others.

Chuleta, amarillos and arroz (Martin's BBQ)
Chuleta (pork chop), amarillos (sweet plantains) and arroz (rice). (Photo: Martin’s BBQ)

Martin’s BBQ currently operates 31 locations across Puerto Rico, with two additional locations in Florida (Kissimmee and Tampa).

“We take pride in offering fresh and traditional food while also providing a connection to our roots and the flavors we love,” reads a statement from the company’s website.

Foods on the lunch line at Martin's BBQ in Kissimmee (June 2022)
Foods on the lunch line at Martin’s BBQ in Kissimmee. (Photo: Martin’s BBQ – June 2022)

Martin’s BBQ will be situated next door to Big Lee’s BBQ, which opened its first brick-and-mortar location in Ocala this past July.

Both restaurants are just a few doors down from K-Pot Korean BBQ & Hot Pot, which opened in October.

That area of Ocala has seen the addition of multiple restaurants in the past five years.

In 2019, ANF Gyros & Grill, Red Crab, and J Rocks Pizzeria all opened new restaurants within a few blocks of each other on SW 19th Avenue Road (i.e., Easy Street).

Nearby, Conn’s HomePlus opened in 2021 and Madras Cafe closed its doors after just over a year at its space next door.