Maria Garcia and Ricardo Flores are hoping sushi will help revive the former Mezcal taqueria in Downtown Fresno. Photo by Edward Smith
Written by Edward Smith
As Mexican food options expand in Downtown Fresno, one business is taking it in another direction.
Mezcal Lounge on Van Ness Avenue has closed its taqueria and is replacing it with a sushi restaurant called On A Roll Sushi that will open Sept. 3.
It will only take light cosmetic work to get the restaurant ready, according to Maria Garcia, manager of Mezcal. A refrigerated display for the rolls will go on the counter and the dining area will be redesigned for more of a Japanese feel.
Owner Ricardo Flores hired a sushi chef from Oxnard whom he has known for 15 years. Coming along with the chef is much of the equipment needed to cut the fish and roll it up, but the area that once was used to make burritos, tacos and carne asada can easily be adapted to prepare the Japanese fare.
Flores originally opened the taqueria for lunch to take advantage of the large lunch crowd and to supplement his weekend dance club.
“We’ve been in business here for 13 years. Not too long ago, we decided to remodel, expand and open the taqueria side to have available during the lunch rush and for the nightclub,” said Garcia.
“However, during the day it just did not work out. We tried promotion, advertising and it was hard.”
One of the biggest problems was the parking. With the increasing options for Mexican food and more food trucks, getting people to come to the taqueria was hard. Flores and Garcia wanted something new.
“We decided to try something different,” said Garcia. “Maybe something that’s not as common here downtown will work.”
Sourcing fish from Central Fish Co. in Chinatown, Flores and Garcia want to keep their local connections.
Customers will be able to phone in orders and online delivery service will be available soon.
The sushi restaurant will open for happy hour from 3-7 p.m. Flores is expanding the hours to take advantage of what he thinks is a lack of dinner options in Downtown.
“Downtown is changing. We have more people living here. I think it is going to be a good change,” Flores said.
Lunch hours begin at 10:30 a.m. and go to 3 p.m. Following lunch is happy hour from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Friday, with the restaurant closing at 9 p.m.