Be Good Restaurant and Experience, located at the old Rosa’s Cantina in Old Town Temecula, is undergoing remodeling in anticipation of tentative June opening. Valley News/Jeff Pack photo

Jeff Pack
Staff Writer

Now that things are opening up a little bit and people are moving about more, a trip to Old Town Temecula might have you wondering what all the construction that is happening at the old Rosa’s Cantina is about. 

Well, several months after the landmark Temecula Mexican food restaurant closed for good, Anthony Bennett and Michael Criscione have swept in to create something new in the space — Be Good Restaurant and Experience, expected to open sometime in the next several weeks. 

“We’re shooting for the ultimate dining experience,” Bennett said. “Mexican American food, coastal twists, some seafood mixed in. The dining experience is going to be a handful of stuff. Concepts that we’ve thrown together that are gonna be very unique. We want to kind of help revive the Old Town Temecula area as well.”

“There’s a lack of entertainment in old town specifically,” Criscione said. “Other than Coin-Op that just opened, which is awesome, but other than that, you have maybe your karaoke on a Tuesday, a live band on a Saturday or Sunday. We wanted to bring some additional entertainment and focus in on the dinner and show concept. We have a lot of different concepts going in here, but the ultimate dining experience is what we’re shooting for.”

The experiences will be all over the map, something for everyone, they hope. 

“Some of the concepts that we have going in is a murder mystery kind of show, my background is escape rooms,” Bennett said. “So it’s a pretty fluid transition for us. We’re going to be including comedy shows, magic shows, dueling piano shows, several do it yourself workshop classes, culinary stuff, and craft cocktail classes.”

A construction worker can be seen through the beams as he installs roofing on the covered patio portion of the restaurant on Old Town Front and Main streets in Old Town Temecula. Valley News/Jeff Pack photo

The restaurant that was established in 1991 by Mike Thesing, his wife Rose and son Mike Junior promising to serve “only the highest quality authentic Mexican food available for their customers at reasonable prices,” closed its doors Sunday, Aug. 25.

There hasn’t been a tenant since. 

Bennett, who recently bought a house in Temecula and owns Brainiacs Escape Room in town, and Criscione who lives in Orange County said Thesing came by for a visit to see how the revamp was coming along. 

On Friday, workers were installing what appeared to be a covered patio area facing Old Town Front Street and the corner of Main Street. 

Work was also being done on the inside, but due to the high amount of construction going on, a tour of the place wasn’t in the cards. 

“We want this to be somewhere where people just can go have fun,” Bennett said. “Like if it was date night or hanging out with the kids where food is important, but what’s more important to us is just the great experience, great customer service all the way down to our show. We want to treat people like they are family when they start there and then all the way to the entertainment.”

They said they have hired a local general manager and a local chef to develop the menu. 

“We already knew coming into the establishment that there was going to be a lot of the ‘Hey, I miss Rosa’s’ thing,” Criscione said. “We wanted to kind of pay homage to that by integrating the Mexican food into the menu. 

“That’s when we hired our chef and we developed a menu based on that concept,” Bennett said. “Food that you would normally go to an Improv and eat, mixed with Mexican food. 

“Gastro Cantina,” they both said with a laugh. 

Admittedly, it’s been quite a process to get the place remodeled since signing the lease on the property. They said they are shooting for an early June opening, but given the current circumstance, can’t exactly say when it will be open. 

“It feels like it’s been a week away for the past six months,” Bennett joked. 

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com