Nestled in the heart of Kearny, New Jersey, lies a hidden gem called O'Imperial. This family-owned restaurant has been a beloved home to many regulars for over 30 years, and it all began with a remarkable man named Jose Martins, who is a true example of the American Dream.
Jose grew up in a small town in the mountains of Portugal, where he had to help his family make ends meet by working in the fields as a toddler. Despite the hardships he faced, he never lost sight of his dreams for a better life. At just 13 years old, he left his home and traveled to the city of Lisbon to work in the restaurant industry. As a homeless teenager, he spent many nights sleeping on the streets, away from his family.
Determined to succeed, Jose joined the special forces in the Portuguese army after he was old enough. After his military service, he met his wife Isabel, and together they left for the United States with very little money in their pockets. Despite the challenges they faced as immigrants, they both found work, and Jose continued to work in the restaurant industry.
After opening several restaurants in Newark, Jose finally found the perfect home for his beloved gem in Kearny, NJ. He named it O'Imperial and, along with his wife and children, fought tirelessly for many years to keep the restaurant afloat. Their hard work paid off as O'Imperial soon became a popular and special place, best known for its incredible draft beers, extensive port wine collection, and wildly popular sangria.
Beyond the delicious food, O'Imperial has become a place of memories for many. From the jokes and pranks that Jose loved to play on his customers, to the crazy chicken leg dance he would do to make people smile, there is always laughter to be found at O'Imperial. Great parties and celebrations are a regular occurrence, and every New Year's Eve, customers bang pots and pans together when the ball drops.
Over the years, many customers have become family, with some regulars having been coming to O'Imperial since its opening. The love and loyalty shown by the community is a testament to the warm and welcoming environment that Jose and his family created.
Jose's inspiring journey from humble beginnings to achieving his American Dream is a true inspiration. Today, as the new owner of O'Imperial, I am proud to carry on his legacy and the traditions that have made this restaurant a cherished part of the community