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Switchin’ the Kitchen

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How the owner of Lum Yen changed direction from Chinese to Steak & Seafood and re-opened it as Baby Duke’s.

Good morning! Today is Monday, December 27, and you are reading today’s section of Examiner+, a digital newsmagazine serving Westchester, Putnam, and the surrounding Hudson Valley.

Today’s Examiner+ is sponsored by Greca Mediterranean Kitchen+ Bar in White Plains.

Baby Duke’s Seafood & Steaks may be located at the same Mamaroneck hot spot at Lum Yen, but its food and vibe prove it to be a completely different eatery.

Lum Yen was an established Chinese restaurant in Mamaroneck for 45 years. When its doors closed, that prime location didn’t seem to be a proper fit for any other restaurant. However, former Lum Yen owner Gene Lum had his own idea of what to do with the space. “When Lum Yen closed, I thought, ‘If I ever came back to that space, what would fit well here,’” says Gene Lum. “The Baby Duke’s idea was designed to fit into the old Lum Yen.”

Lum sat on the Baby Duke’s concept for a bit while he was working for different restaurant groups in Manhattan. The newly planned eatery would feature a seafood- and steak-focused menu, which is a completely different take from the old roots of his Chinese eatery.

“I didn’t want to be defined by my family legacy and a Chinese restaurant,” Lum explains. “I worked for a bunch of different restaurants with different types of foods. I didn’t want to be defined by just Chinese food or one specific dish.”

With Lum Yen being his only real restaurant experience, it was time for him to step away from that legacy and try something different.

“Growing up in Mamaroneck, seafood was always a great staple,” explains Lum of his reason for the culinary changeup. “My family and I were good friends with the owners of Crab Shanty; we would go there almost every day. When it closed, we missed a good seafood restaurant. I had such a hankering for it.”

When COVID-19 struck, many restaurants shut down; including the restaurant group he was working with. During that time, he met a contractor with a vacancy in Mount Vernon who wanted to build a restaurant and didn’t know what to put in the space.

“We tested out the concept in Mount Vernon first in September 2020, and the response was amazing there,” exclaims Lum. “After New Year’s Eve going into 2021, we needed a bigger spot.”

Baby Duke’s then made its way to Mamaroneck in the building formerly known as Lum Yen, officially opening in the summer of 2021.

The menu also includes soul food inspired by Chef Elvis Inniss. Originally from Barbados, Innis is a former chef at Del Frisco’s steakhouse in New York City and specializes in soul food. Inniss is not only is he the chef at Baby Duke’s, but he is also co-owner along with Lum and Rob Marinelli, who owns a plumbing/contracting business.

Today’s supporting sponsors are the Town of Yorktown

…and the Peekskill Business Improvement District.

Along with a variety of everyday soulful eats, every Tuesday customers can enjoy something they won’t see on the daily menu.

“Everyone has Taco Tuesday,” remarks Lum. “Our kitchen leader is Chef Louis Casenas, who’s been a chef at many different Mexican-style restaurants, and was a sous-chef for me years ago. He pitched an idea for Taco Tuesday and the reception and feedback were great.”

Low and behold, Taco and Tostada Tuesday was created as a weekly special.

Tuesdays aren’t the only day for specials. Baby Duke’s has loaded up different deals and events throughout the week.

“Baby Duke’s is a destination for people who want to go out and have good food and a good time,” expresses Lum. “We try to have something every day.”

On Mondays, customers can enjoy $1 wings. Along with tacos and tostadas, guests can sing their hearts out with karaoke on Tuesdays. On Wednesdays, women can treat themselves to Ladies’ Night and Wine Down Wednesdays with half-priced bottles of wine, food, and cocktail specials. Thursdays are for trivia goers to test their trivia knowledge. And on the weekends don’t be surprised if you happen upon a DJ spinning tracks throughout the night.

With every day feeling like a celebration, it’s guaranteed that Lum, Inniss, and Marinelli follow their tagline: “Good food, good times at Baby Duke’s.”

Not only does the menu differ from the former establishment, but the interior has also changed. From the finishes and the décor to the lighting, Baby Duke’s has taken a vastly different approach to its atmosphere.“We had to change the interior so the customers didn’t see the space as Lum Yen,” says Lum. “We wanted to change it up, and now people don’t even recognize it.”

Kayla Garritano has been a freelance writer since 2017 when she graduated from Hofstra University with a degree in journalism and a double minor in creative writing and marketing. She now runs her own freelancing website, kaylagarritano.com, where she will happily flaunt her work in many different genres such as food, travel, lifestyle, and all things that make people laugh or smile. When she’s finally done with the computer for the day, she enjoys keeping busy with friends and family. Whether it be attending a sporting event or concert, going to the gym, or just grabbing a drink, she doesn’t know how to stay still.

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