Temecula restaurant The Bank of Mexican Food is changing concepts — here’s why


Temecula restaurant The Bank of Mexican Food is changing concepts — here’s why
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After more than 40 years of serving traditional Mexican cuisine, Old Town Temecula restaurant The Bank of Mexican Food is changing its concept.

The restaurant, which closed Tuesday and Wednesday, will reopen at 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, as The Bank Plates & Pours and will feature Pacific Rim-inspired “culinary plates,” according to owner Craig Puma. While the restaurant’s menu will still have some Mexican food items, those items will have a Pacific Rim influence as well.

The restaurant will also boast a new bar area, dubbed the Barrel Bar, where guests will be able to get pours of locally made wines, beers and spirits, Puma said.

The Bank, located in what was a bank building dating back to 1914, opened in 1978 as a Mexican restaurant.

Puma, who took over the restaurant with his wife in 2007, said it was time for a change. He said that within the last five years, multiple high-end restaurants run by chefs had opened and that the city’s downtown area had become more of a “foodie atmosphere.”

“We are changing with the times,” Puma said.

The change in concept for The Bank follows the closure of another longtime Old Town Mexican restaurant, Rosa’s Cantina.

Located directly across Old Town Front Street from The Bank, Rosa’s had been serving casual Mexican food for nearly three decades before closing its doors for good earlier this year.

At The Bank, the Pumas have brought on Chef Jake Takao, who has worked as a sushi chef and more recently in catering, to helm the new concept.

Some of the new menu items that the restaurant will have include spiced garlic edamame, free range chicken wings, Cajun gulf shrimp, calamari, fajitas, jalapeño ginger pork and Pacific Islander ribs. Entrees at the restaurant will run from about $16 to $38, according to Puma.

Meanwhile, the Barrel Bar will serve wine, beer and spirits from the local area. The restaurant, working with a San Diego distiller, will also have its own small batch quantities of spirits such as bourbon and rye. The bar area will not offer mixed drinks.

“Its specialty is going to be things that you pour into a glass, either with a block of ice or straight,” Puma said.

The restaurant has not only undergone menu changes but design changes as well. Hanging from the wall are pictures of various bandits and robbers from California history, including Joaquin Murrieta, Amil Dinsio and Miguel Diaz. Diaz is known for actually robbing The Bank in 1930 when it was the Temecula First National Bank.

Puma said the restaurant will soon have a card with a QR code at every table that guests will be able to scan with their phones. It will take them to The Bank’s website, where they’ll be able to learn about each of the robbers and their backstory.

Puma cautioned that customers will need to bear with the restaurant during its opening weekend, as restaurant staff will still be learning about the new concept.

“If you’re coming here, be patient, because we’re all relearning everything we’ve done,” he said.

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