By Jessica Dinapoli – Times Herald-Record
Published: 2:00 AM – 08/14/12
TOWN OF NEWBURGH — Joe Bonura began his hospitality career managing and sometimes cooking at the former Perkins Restaurant on Route 32, which he built in the early 1970s.
After selling that property in the late 1980s, buying it back 10 years later, and then waiting almost another 10 years for approvals to change traffic patterns, he’s ready to cross an item off his bucket list: owning an Italian restaurant.
Bonura plans to open Bonura’s Little Sicily in January or February in the very spot where he got his start. His company, Bonura Hospitality Group, owns a variety of other businesses, including Anthony’s Pier 9 in New Windsor and the former Orange Country Club in the Town of Wallkill.
Bonura’s Little Sicily will anchor a small strip mall to include three other shops and a TEG Federal Credit Union branch. The Newburgh branch is TEG’s first on the western side of the Hudson River.
Mom’s Family Restaurant has sat vacant at the future site of Bonura’s Little Sicily for nearly a decade. Part of the reason it failed was that it was almost impossible for traffic coming off Route 84 West to easily get there, Bonura said.
Traffic currently coming off Route 84 West at Exit 10S onto Route 32 can only go left or right.
But Bonura has won approvals for vehicles to go through the traffic light at the intersection and directly into the small shopping center.
Bonura’s Little Sicily has sentimental value for the entrepreneur, but Billy Joe’s Ribworks on Front Street is Bonura’s source of long-term growth.
The Bonuras this fall are opening up a much smaller restaurant called Billy Joe’s Ribworks Outpost in Wappingers Falls. The Outpost will be only about 3,000 square feet, while the City of Newburgh barbecue mecca is more than 20,000 square feet, including outdoor space.
Bonura’s son, Joseph Bonura, said the Wappingers Falls location will be the prototype for a franchise spanning across high-population communities in the Northeast.
“We see barbecue as a style of food under-represented in the Northeast,” the son said. “We want to take the brand and grow.”