"Moon Hut Is Now Mexican" By Kathy Reakes (Florida Today—August 12, 2005)
La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant recently opened at the site of the former Moon Hut restaurant in Cape Canaveral. The owners have memorialized the old restaurant, which many considered an area landmark, by keeping one dining area exactly as it was in the Moon Hut. Near the back of La Fiesta is a large room, decorated with the large Moon Hut wooden sign that had been a familiar logo to visitors and locals since the 1950s.
"Before we opened, we had many people come by who were curious about what we were doing and who were concerned that the Moon Hut was no longer here," said Alice Fusillo. She co-owns the restaurant with Nestor Martinez and Jesus Diaz. Martinez owns the Azteca Mexican Restaurant in other parts of Brevard County. Past customers will recognize hundreds of NASA stickers, pictures of celebrities and astronauts, and other items that still adorn one wall of the restaurant.
"It's ironic that so many people seem to care so much about the restaurant, but nobody ever did anything to take care of it," Mr. Martinez said. "When we took over, the building was really rundown and a mess inside." Mr. Martinez has been in Brevard County for about 12 years. Restaurants run in his family. He owns two others in Melbourne and West Melbourne, and he has 14 family members who own restaurants. When remodeling the old Moon Hut, the new owners took great care to preserve the tons of memorabilia that include everything from autographed photos to flight patches and stickers and old menus. "I grew up here so I know how important the items are to the residents." Ms. Fusillo said. "We're very excited to be here."
Local artist Peter Howland helped the owners brighten up the restaurant with brightly painted walls and booths. Purples, greens and wild pink painted walls are highlighted with flowers and scenes from Mexico. Longtime resident and former Cocoa Beach Mayor Joe Morgan is looking forward to the new restaurant. "I worked for years right across the street from the Moon Hut," Mr. Morgan said. "I spend many hours there. There's lots of history there. I'm glad someone is fixing up the place and keeping all the memorabilia." He said he's also happy because he loves Mexican food.
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