Metro, News

Caliente Mexican Grill to replace Thayer Street Deli

Owners initially planned to open Mexican grill, but were prevented from doing so by lease

Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Caliente Mexican Grill is set to open by the end of April as the most recent addition to Thayer Street’s restaurants.

Replacing Thayer Street Deli, Caliente will be the fourth eatery to occupy the 267 Thayer address since August 2017, The Herald previously reported. Previously, 267 Thayer has housed UMelt and a pop-up sandwich shop before transforming into the deli.

Despite the high turnover rate at the address, owners and brothers Arlin, Franquin and Jose Rodezno — who also operated Thayer Street Deli — feel confident that their homestyle cooking can succeed on Thayer. “We’ve been making Mexican food for the past 14 years. It’s just what we do,” Arlin Rodezno said.

The brothers began renting the property in fall 2018, when they opened the Thayer Street Deli in October.

Arlin said they had always wanted to open a Mexican grill at the location but previously could not because of their original leasing agreement, which permitted only sandwich-making. The brothers only recently received permission to open a Mexican restaurant. Angell Alley Associates LLC leases the building to the brothers, and could not be reached for comment about the leasing agreement or the frequent turnover the location has seen.

Caliente’s move onto Thayer Street marks the restaurant’s second location in Rhode Island. The Rodezno brothers also operate a Caliente Mexican Grill in Kingston.

The other Caliente is near the University of Rhode Island, a factor the owners said has played an important role in the business’s success. Caliente’s owners said they are excited to bring their “authentic Mexican street food” to residents of the East Side, in addition to University and Rhode Island School of Design communities.

Gabriela Carson ’21 will miss Thayer Street Deli. “I liked Thayer Street Deli because it was an affordable, simple option for people who are off meal plan like myself,” she said.

“I’ll have to wait and see how the Mexican grill is before I decide to eat there,” Carson added. “With other Tex-Mex options like Bajas on Thayer, I don’t know if I will (eat at Caliente), unless it turns out to be a cheaper or better option.”

When asked about the proximity of Caliente to Baja’s two locations, Rodezno was unfazed, stressing the difference in food that his eatery will offer from other Thayer businesses. “We are going to serve original Mexican tapas, not like Bajas,” he said.

Both Baja’s Tex Mex Grill and Baja’s Taqueria declined to comment on Caliente’s opening.

Rodezno hopes their mission of providing tasty, quality food at a good price will secure the success of their new Thayer Street location.

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