MERIDEN — The owners of the new Mojito’s Sports Bar have brought nightlife back to to Camp Street.
Mojito’s, which opened in August, is operated by the couple who run Caribbean Restaurant at nearby 311 Center St. It is located in the building that once housed Rosie’s Cafe.
”My husband drove by and saw the for rent sign,” said Rosa Valle. “He said ‘what do you think’? I never thought I was getting into the bar business.”
Rosie’s Cafe was popular in the neighborhood, but closed in 2013 because the 59-year-old building needed repairs. The building was later foreclosed on and eventually bought by James Vitali, doing business as 190 Camp Street LLC. Vitali also owns Tuxis-Ohr’s Fuel on Brittania Street.
Vitali expanded the kitchen, installed a granite bar and added new flooring. He repaired the roof, removed the walls to concrete blocks, added spray-foam insulation, installed a stainless cooler, and built a large patio in the rear.
“When I get involved in properties I only want to redo it once,” Vitali said.
Vitali had two parties interested in the property and he selected Valle because she and her husband had a proven record in the restaurant business.
“I’m so happy for them,” Vitale said. “They’re doing so well.”
The recent openings of new businesses opening downtown bodes well for the city.
“They are starting to come alive. That’s going to bring a lot of people back to downtown.”
The modern decor and lighting highlight the cafe’s signature beverage, the mojito, a mint and rum concoction available in two dozen flavors. The most popular is the passion fruit, Valle said.
“The passion fruit mojito was delicious,” agreed Millie Torres-Ferguson, who was visiting for the first time.
Torres-Ferguson, who is the city’s Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman, was meeting with Valle Thursday to set up a campaign fundraiser at the cafe.
”I think it looks great,” Torres-Ferguson said.
“The quesadillas are very good,” added Marisol Estrada.
Mojito’s serves a menu of pub food, also featuring chicken wings, sweet potato fries and more. There is a DJ on Friday and Saturday. Valle hopes to offer live bands soon.
The cafe is open Thursday to Sunday for now, but Valle hopes to increase the hours as they hire more people. For now, Valle and husband German Rosario alternate between the Caribbean Restaurant and Mojito’s. They have six employees.
The couple advertise the new sports bar at The Caribbean Restaurant, which draws customers from as far as Manchester and New Haven. Spanish radio also helps spread the word. So far, customer feedback has been good
“There is a nice large patio...and we have security on the weekends,” Valle said.
Valle plans to take classes so she can help out behind the bar.
“People said the city needs something like (this),” Valle said. “It motivated me to offer something clean and safe.”
Mojito’s is open from 5 p.m. to midnight on Thursday; from 3 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday; and 3 p.m. to midnight on Sunday.