Warwick, RI – Carlos Meza, 19, owner of local Mexican chain California Taco Shop, was behind the counter managing service for a modest dinner crowd at the family chain’s new 2168 Elmwood Ave. location Wednesday.
“It’s been busy since we started it,” on Friday, Sept. 12, Meza said of the fourth restaurant in his family’s growing business, once home to Harry’s NY System.
The big, red “Harry’s” sign is still sits atop the building, but now it’s surrounded by California Taco Shop branding including signs and banners.
Meza said they’ve been getting customers from local businesses as well as fans of their previous locations, continuing their winning streak in picking high-traffic spots for their locations.
“It’s a good area,” Meza said, referencing the proximity to the airport and near-constant flow of vehicles past the nearby intersection of Post Road and Elmwood Avenue.
There are currently four California Taco Shop locations, including the Warwick spot as well as three in Providence at 321 Amherst St., 381 Plainfield St., and 977 Manton Ave. A fifth is planned for Pawtucket, Meza said.
Meza said City officials have reached out to offer an official welcome to Warwick. The newest shop employs 18 people part-time who help prepare authentic Mexican food for hungry customers.
“Everyone that eats here from California says it’s the most authentic (Mexican) food you can get,” Meza said. The reviews on the restaurant’s Yelp page back up the claim.
Meza, who studies business and accounting at CCRI, also works as a chef in a local hotel. He put his studies on a brief hold while he helped open the Warwick restaurant and make sure it’s a success.
With that task nearly complete, he hopes to return to school in the spring.