William Martinez, an Oakland Park resident and small business owner, has brought the pride of Puerto Rico to Oakland Park. Originally from New York, William moved to South Florida in 2002 and to the Fort Lauderdale area in 2008. Now he resides in our own city with his husband.
He first brought the taste of Puerto Rico to OP when he opened La Empanada Loca, a Puerto Rican restaurant, in 2016. The restaurant was well received and soon he expanded it. Now William is taking it to another level with his newest establishment, Pal K-Rajo, pronounced pal-ca-raho.
An Eye On the Prize
After La Empanada Loca became a successful establishment, William knew that he wanted to expand and have a larger space. The opportunity presented itself when just next door to him, an old Oakland Park staple and favorite hangout spot, the Fox and Hound, closed its doors due to Covid.
In December 2021, it became evident that the Fox and Hound was not coming back. William knew that he had wanted the space for his newest creation and so he set about the task of getting it and executing his vision.
The previous owner had begun to fix it, but there were some major things he was unable to finish. William stepped in and resumed repairs and began transforming the space. It took him a lot of money and many repairs to transform it and bring it back to a new glory.
Locals that used to frequent the Fox and Hounds may wonder if there is any décor or style left from the previous bar. The truth is: With a new space came a new beginning and it is all newly renovated! The ceiling is new, the interior is all new and renovated and everything in the bathroom is also brand new. Eventually, the new spot will be combined with La Empanada Loca. There are plans in place to build a doorway to connect the two establishments.
What's In a Name?
The new is named “Pal K-Rajo”. This is taken from a very informal slang term which can be quite offensive to certain people, but was taken with a certain funny twist and a bit of history behind it.
In many Latin American cultures, when you say to someone “Vete pal carajo”, it pretty much means to “go where the sun don’t shine”. It can be used as a term of surprise when somebody tells you something unbelievable, kind of like a reaction of surprise or disbelief. But it’s also a way to send people away in jest or in anger as if saying “get out of here!”.
A History Lesson
However, what may be surprising to some people is the actual history of where this terminology began. If we go way back to old travels of the sea, all ships had a mast and a lookout spot high up on the mast. Because of its height, and constant swaying motion of a ship on the move, no one really wanted the job of lookout. As punishment or consequence, the ship’s captain would often send people to go to “el carajo”.
When speaking Spanish and one wants to get rid of a person, in an impatient or annoyed tone, one would say, “Vete pal carajo!” William thought this would be a comical way to encourage people to come to his bar and enjoy Puerto Rican food while having drinks and socializing. One could even say to a friend or partner or coworkers that they are going to where the sun doesn’t shine: they’re going to “el carajo”. William says, “Come to us. We’ll take care of you”. And he adds, laughing, “Que se vengan pal carajo!” (Come to where the sun don’t shine!).
The Fox and Hounds was there for 30 years, it was such a huge part of Oakland Park resident’s lives. Now, William hopes Pal K-rajo will be a place where years from now it is an established favorite local bar for local people.
What to Expect
In addition to drinks, Pal K-Rajo will be serving food nightly. For those people who would like to go to a bar and have a few drinks, but have an appetite for something delicious, there will be Puerto Rican specialties bar edition – mainly appetizers. Pal K-Rajo will serve food up until 12 or 1 AM.
William offers that if you want a full dinner before coming over to the bar area, La Empanada Loca also expanded and went from 20 seats to 60 seats now. One can dine at La Empanada Loca and then walk a few feet away to Pal K-Rajo to enjoy the beautifully renovated lounge.The owner is eager for you to come and enjoy 6 different rums, full bar, and try their experimental drinks including one drink called Pal K-Rajo.
In the future, he hopes to host drag shows and provide a Puerto Rican Latin vibe. It will be a sports bar complete with flatscreens, pool table, dominos, live music, and a featured Viernes de Baile night with a vibe perfect for hanging out and dancing to reggaeton music.
William is very very proud of his accomplishments and feels humbled that he’s come as far as he has. He only wishes his dear beloved late mother could see it all. There is no doubt she is looking down on him with pride and love in her heart for her son. Go visit La Empanada Loca and Pal K-rajo, and say hello to William and his husband. He truly is a welcoming host wanting to share with you his Puerto Rican pride!