After 41 years of serving up authentic Mexican food to visitors in Old Town Temecula, The Bank Mexican Restaurant and Bar will be no more on Thursday, Nov. 21.
Wait, don’t panic — owners Christy and Craig Puma aren’t closing their doors forever — they told the Valley News that they have reimagined the restaurant, taking it in a new direction.
Starting Thursday, according to owner Craig Puma, the restaurant will become The Bank – Plates & Pours.
He said they are making the change to “step up their game” to meet the demands of potential customers flocking to a burgeoning Old Town Temecula cuisine scene.
The restaurant will close on Tuesday and Wednesday before reopening Thursday with a soft opening.
When that happens, they will be debuting a brand new menu, which Puma described as “Mexican with a Pacific Rim flair.”
To execute and develop the new menu, the Pumas have hired Jake Takao, a local with 30 years in the community and in restaurants.
“He’s bringing a whole different flair to the restaurant and for the community,” Puma said.
In addition to changes to the menu, big changes have been made to the inside of the restaurant as well, including a brand new pouring bar that promises to wet the whistles of customers, no matter their preference for libation.
“We have decided to do some major changes with the renovation of the dining room, adding a pouring bar, which will focus on distilled spirits, whiskey, bourbon, scotch, tequila, flavored vodka, wine and beer, also,” Puma said. “Something that people will want to just come and enjoy.”
The decor will be updated and renovated with what Puma called a “bank and robber theme’ that will include three large paintings of robbers who robbed the actual bank housed within the building in Old West times.
The changes, Puma said, were in response to a changing economy in Old Town Temecula, including rising rental prices.
“We’ve realized that Mexican comfort food is not what sells in old town,” Puma said. “And as much as a lot of people like Mexican food, with rents rising the way they have and the cost of running a restaurant, we can’t do it on $3 tacos.”
More importantly, Puma recognized that people coming to old town are looking for more from their culinary experience.
“Because of the culinary atmosphere of old town,” Puma said. “It’s going to take a different culinary effort. So, we’ve had to step up our game.”
The Bank Mexican Restaurant will remain open Sunday and Monday, will close Tuesday and Wednesday and reopen Thursday with a soft opening as The Bank – Plates & Pours.
Puma asked that customers understand that the staff will need some time to adjust to the new menu and format in the first few days of their reopening.
“We are turning this around pretty quickly, so it is going to take some adjustment and hope people understand,” he said.
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at email@example.com.