Meet Meghan LaCourte! Co-Owner of Leilu. The family owned restaurant on New Street in Huntington features a seasonal menu, keeping a few favorites throughout the year was well as a Kid’s menus with “absolute ‘no green things’ found anywhere.” The restaurant has quickly become a favorite around town!
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in town? I was born in Huntington Hospital and have lived in Huntington ever since (minus a few years in Astoria Queens to minimize my commute to the city at that time) I attended Southdown Elementary from K-6, Finley Jr HS and Huntington High School.
Child(ren) and Age(s)? I have two girls, Leila is 4 1/2 and Lucie is almost 2
One thing people would be surprised to know about you… I am a huge fan of Dinosaurs and the movie Jurassic Park (Both girls ‘roared’ like a dinosaur before they could say “mama” which was somewhat hilarious)
What is your favorite thing about living here? The diversity of quite literally everything. Diversity in people, cultures, food, activities, landscape, places to shop etc. Huntington is, in my opinion, the center of our own little universe here on LI. Its something that we should always celebrate, embrace and accept. It builds our character, educates us if/when we let it, and broadens our horizons in so many ways, and lets face it… it’s hard to get bored here!
What do you love to do with your family around town? We walk around a lot when the weather is nice, Eat somewhere outside (we need more outdoor dining spaces tho!) and grab ice cream and sit on a bench down by the water, picnic at West Neck beach. In the winter we visit local businesses we are fond of – Coffee shops, Breweries, looking forward to checking out Spotlight, and since our business is new – we have been spending a lot of time there and at neighboring places.
Tell us about your business and how it came to be, what you love about it, what makes it unique, what your goal is, etc… Our restaurant was founded on a few things – but our ultimate goal was to try and fill a void that, as a local Huntington family, we think needed to exist. In no way do we think we are 100% there yet with reaching our goal, but our mission is to create a warm and inviting space that is welcoming to everyone. Despite our gold touches and some funky flair, we have no dress code, no overly eccentric menu items, and no judgement. We welcome people to join us solo for a glass of wine and a quick snack, or a family of 12 to come in and celebrate a birthday and create a memory and experience we hope they will enjoy forever. We love the restaurant business because of its ability to forever grow with the needs and requests of the community. What you see now most likely will change in some ways, simply because guests walk through our door every day sharing amazing ideas with us. It’s a shame when a restaurant or any business really, doesn’t open it’s eyes and take feedback from it’s patrons. In our eyes – if we are here to serve our community, we want to provide a product and experience that the community asks for and needs.
My husband James and I met at Restaurant Joanina, another family owned Huntington business. After leaving there I explored varying aspects of the food and beverage world via the more 9-5 working day route through journalism, TV production and marketing, and James stayed with Joanina to grow with the passions of that family as he shared so much love (and still does) for that restaurant. After over 2 decades of staying at the same location, James and I decided that it was the right time to begin the search for the right location, and business model for our own restaurant.
We hope that over time, we can become a unique and special entity in Huntington. We strive to provide a unique product to allow people to learn a bit more about food and wine and other aspects in a non-intimidating environment, while remaining comfortable and having fun. We welcome children and look forward to explained on our kids menu ideas as we fine tune all the other systems in play.
How has this community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now? The support of the friends and other business owners in this town has been truly remarkable. I feel as though there is a misconception about the restaurants in this town “competing” against one another. We so ofter get the “oh wow, you opened a restaurant in Huntington – already so many its so over saturated!” Well, i’d venture to say that most concepts in this town are unique in their own way, but even more so, look out for one another. On our block alone, we have Hatch, Old Fields BBQ and Thai Thai Villa – not to mention even more options farther down our street. We have become close with these businesses and we all know we can rely on each other for referrals, mutual support, borrowing things we may need from time to time, and because of this, true friendships have developed. In social media you see some of the long-standing places in this town posting about and promoting some of the new comers – not to dissuade others to visit them, but to boost them up. Its a close knit community, the Huntington restaurant world – and its an extended family we are excited to be a part of and look forward to growing with them and the town as a whole.
Are you involved in anything else within the community? Raising two young girls and starting the business has left little time to get too involved with the community as of yet. I’m anticipating a change of pace as we hit our 2 year mark and the girls are in school for longer during the day. We are members of the Huntington Chamber of Commerce and look forward to doing more there, and to really highlight the points I mentioned about why we live here – embrace our towns diversities in every way shape and form where I can in the public light.