The Hut spreads its wings in new location
The Hut has completed its metamorphosis from literally a hole-in-the-wall largely take-out operation next to R&J Wine, Liquor, and Tobacco to a full-fledged restaurant at the Rita’s Building in Garapan.
Co-owner Tom Deleon Guerrero said The Hut made the move to the new location in October of 2022 and after nearly two months of renovation, opened up its new digs at the old IHOP restaurant that now allows it to comfortably seat as many as 50 customers, host parties, expand its already impressive Mexican food menu, as well as finally sell drinks.
He said the move to a bigger and obviously costlier place is a risk to him and his co-owners, but at the rate The Hut was attracting more and more customers who pine for their authentic south-of-the-border tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and rice plates, they didn’t have much of a choice.
What makes The Hut’s Mexican food the toast of the town is it’s the closest tacos and burritos on island to the real deal in Mexico.
He said even Puerto Ricans, who at one point worked at the Saipan casino, and Mexican-Americans, who visited the islands for federal work, attested to the authenticity of The Hut’s tacos, burritos, etc.
Deleon Guerrero attributes this to him and the co-owners—all his family members —living and attending college in San Diego, California where they consumed Mexican food like it was going out of fashion.
“There wasn’t any week that we wouldn’t get a burrito or taco or go to a Mexican shop or anything like that. So it all stemmed from there and then when we started to move back, we couldn’t find a place that served authentic burritos and that’s why we started to make our own.”
The genesis of The Hut actually began in Lower Navy Hill in circa 2016—maybe even 2015 as Deleon Guerrero himself isn’t sure—where they peddled tacos and burritos out of their parents’ home.
From there, they were hawking their Mexican wrapped delights at the CNMI Liberation festival of 2017 and in the summer of 2017, The Hut food cart operation graduated to selling fish, chicken, and pork tacos at the Safehouse where their popularity spread like wildfire through word of mouth.
After several years of participating in various festival events and continuing operations at the Safehouse, the co-owners finally gathered enough of their own personal funds to have their brick-and-mortar debut via the aforementioned space next to R&J Wine, Liquor, and Tobacco in May 2020.
Unfortunately, shortly after signing their lease in February of 2020, the CNMI closed its borders and started to implement COVID-19 restrictions. The co-owners of The Hut had no choice but to find solutions to ensure renovations are completed in a short amount of time to enable them to open up whilst adhering to newly implemented COVID-19 restaurant health and safety requirements.
Deleon Guerrero said business was brisk when they were allowed to eventually open by mid-2020 despite operations limited to just three days a week.
Through the ups and downs of the pandemic, The Hut survived and trudged on before it finally dawned on them that the cramped environs of their old location was limiting the hopes and vision for The Hut.
Deleon Guerrero said parking obviously was an issue and they only had seven seats and a couple of tables to offer their customers. They also couldn’t also offer drinks other than bottled water because they just didn’t have enough space.
At Rita’s Building, The Hut now offers an array of Mexican beers and is working on having a full bar for drinks—alcoholic or otherwise—and seats and tables for regulars and newcomers alike.
And that blank space on the north wall, Deleon Guerrero said they will soon fill that with a mural depicting images of the burrito shops that influenced The Hut when they were all growing up in one apartment in San Diego.
Deleon Guerrero also acknowledged that they did get $10,000 from the Building Optimism, Opportunities and Stability Together Program and they’ve used the BOOST funds to defray some of the renovation costs of moving to a bigger place.
On promotions, The Hut currently has Taco Tuesdays where the beers are $1 off and their 4-inch tacos (pork, chicken, beef, shrimp, and galbi) and 6-inch tacos (pork, beef, and fish) are available at reduced prices.
Deleon Guerrero also promises more new additions to The Hut’s menu in the following months as he and the team eventually get the feel of running a full-fledged restaurant operation.
The Hut is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11am to 8pm. For more information, call (670) 233-7111 or contact them through their social media pages on Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok.