Owner of Momo's: 'We Feel Horrible That This Happened'

Rich Comunala extends condolences, clarifies bar's role in deadly incident.

The owner of Momo's Bar & Grill, a Holbrook nightspot recently thrust into the limelight after a fatal stabbing occurred outside its doors, has spoken to Patch about the incident, expressing his sorrow for the victim and his family.

Rich Comunala, who opened Momo's three and a half years ago after taking it over from "Murphy's Law," said that the bar had very little involvement in the incident, and that the alleged killer was actually denied entry to the establishment. Last night police revealed that they are charging 19-year-old Robert Gregory for the murder of 29-year-old Julian Pena.

The fatal stabbing took place shortly after midnight on Tuesday night, when police say Pena and another man were involved in a brawl between Gregory, Reuben Rosario, 28, and some other unidentified men in the parking lot outside the bar.

According to Comunala, Pena was inside the bar having drinks with friends when he left with a friend and walked across the street to the 7-Eleven. Comunala said that while Pena was gone, the group of men involved in the fight attempted to enter Momo's but were turned away by a Momo's bouncer.

"They looked like trouble," Comunala said when asked why they were stopped. "They were drinking in the parking lot already." Comunala added that Pena and his friend encountered the men on the way back to the bar, but didn't know what sparked the brawl. "Nobody knows what happened or what was said. We don’t know why it occurred."

News of the killing sparked a stream of comments on Sachem Patch and other news outlets. Some comments Comunala takes issue with.

"I’ve been reading a lot of comments from people on places like Newsday, and a lot of people think it had something to do with the bar," Comunala said. "It had nothing to do with the bar. I guess everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but we feel horrible that this happened. We do a lot of charity work, especially for Sachem."

Comunala said that the bar employs two bouncers on the weekend and one bouncer during the week. Since this incident happened on a weekday, there was one bouncer on shift.

"And it’s not because we have problems," he said. "Some people get bouncers because they have problems; I have bouncers because we don’t have problems."

According to Comunala, when the bouncer saw the fight break out in the parking lot he immediately called police. Gregory is scheduled to be arraigned in court today on a second degree murder charge. 

BMOR September 28, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Tuesday night: Adults can't drink when they want? Perhaps Brookhaven Township should Police the bars like they do the liquor stores and force them to close at 8:00PM too during the week!!! Speaking of the Police, if they were patrolling the neighborhoods instead of sitting in the fire houses waiting for the next call, this and a lot more might not have happened.
People should take responsibility for their own actions and in this instance, the person who stabbed Julian Pena is the one responsible for taking his life. The loss of a loved one is devastating, especially because of the violence involved. Right now, maybe it's a time to reflect on the life of Mr. Pena and what the loss of his life represents to his family and friends. I'm quite sure that Julian's family members would rather read "condolences" or highlights about his life instead of all the spewing of negative comments. I wouldn't be surprised if they read these posts. I don't see Momo's, the bouncer or the Police being at fault because Mr. Gregory made a poor choice by carrying a knife and using it to inflict fatal wounds to Julian. So many lives are now in an upheaval because of the actions of one person. The repercussions and its effects on many lives now come into play. A judge and jury will now decide Robert's fate. In the meantime, I would like to send my condolences to the family of Julian Pena. Though I don't know him, his life was meaningful to his 2 year old child and his loved ones and I pray for the healing of their broken hearts. May Julian Pena rest in peace and may his memory and loving spirit live. Peace and Blessings ~
Steve Gerasimovich October 02, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Tragedy!!! ENOUGH SAID.
Natali Altenburg - JAP October 19, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Julian was the love of my life - from our 1st kiss on sept 6th, 2008 till forever. To those who ask "who goes drinking on a tuesday night?" - momos is a bar and grill - Julian happened to also go there just to buy chicken wings, catch a game, hang out with friends. We litterally live across the street and up the block. We've walked there plenty of times. He was out with his coworker because they were off the next day for the Jewish Holiday. He's a 29year old MAN - not some little boy. I saw his bar tab... it was barely over 22$. I dont drink but i know my Julian - I know what his body can handle - he was just enjoying his night. The life of the military man usually leads you to be an alcoholic... but my babe was not. a social drinker was all he ever was while we were together. Our son misses his daddy so much. he asks for him constantly, telling me we must go find him. and i wish we could. Julian was the greatest father in the world. our son was the absolute joy of our lives and Julian used to stare at him in amazement and pride. We were happy until this one horrible individual decided to take away his life. Im angry inside. That man ruined mine and my sons life... Momo's was always a favorite place of Julians... its not there fault. RIP lover <3
Natali Altenburg - JAP October 19, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Momo's is having a Fundraiser in Julian's honor For our Son on Saturday Oct 20th from 1pm -8pm... all ages are welcomed. Julian is in a better place now and always on my mind and in my heart. RIP babe


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