Driving down N 9th Street in Lebanon, you might have noticed the notice of liquor license application on the front of MamaJuana Lounge & Restaurant, located in the building formerly occupied by the Orioles.
Esmalin “Smiley” Peña hopes that the newly expanded and renovated establishment helps make Lebanon more attractive to other people who might otherwise leave the county for nightlife in Reading or Lancaster. He sees it as an inclusive place where you don’t need to necessarily show up on a Saturday night and get lit – although that is certainly an option, with hookah and live music being big attractions in the swank club area at the back of the first floor.
And did I mention the food? The place is known for their delicious meat, fish, and seafood dishes – you can get a whole red snapper for under twenty bucks, with tasty sides like yellow rice and fried sweet plantains. The mofongo and churrasco are other popular options.
“We want to offer different things for the community,” said general manager Roberto Terrero when I visited with him and Smiley at MamaJuana last week to learn more about his plans.
“We’re trying to do something positive here,” he explained, noting that they have been putting their money, work, and hope into the effort. He hopes that the restaurant and play room areas provide an escape and alternative to the party atmosphere in the club area. With the license MamaJuana will have bars up in the play area/sports lounge as well as downstairs. The license is being applied for by North 9th Business Ventures which is owned by Gerelin Peña-Duran.
One last thing. They know the name confuses people. It kinda sounds like that other thing, but as a matter of fact it’s actually a drink from the Dominican Republic made by soaking rum with wood chips. It looks something like this.
They plan to have some MamaJuana available for interested parties to purchase. After the liquor license is secured, there will definitely be an opening plan of some kind, but the timing of state approval is unclear at this point. In time, they also to continue work on the building by refurbishing the lower level, aka the bowling alley.
The Orioles Nest home in Lebanon was built in 1925 the year after the organization received its charter. Additions were made in later years and for a long time, the nest was a social hub for the people of Lebanon – and if the group has their way, it’ll still be that going forward.
See some pictures of that and the rest of the 39 N 9th Street building below.
MamaJuana is open Tuesday through Sunday starting at noon. It closes at 10pm on weeknights and 3am on the weekends.