Torero's opening next week at new location at the Landing

Torero's owners Veronica Rodriguez Medina and Ted Rodriguez are preparing for a new era at The Landing.
— image credit: Tracey Compton, Renton Reporter

A Renton institution in family dining is getting a new look in a new location. Torero’s, formerly on Rainier Avenue downtown, will celebrate the grand opening of their restaurant at The Landing on June 28.

“It’s the beginning of a new era for our family and for Torero’s and the next generation,” said Veronica Rodriguez Medina, owner.

She is the daughter of Ted Rodriguez, longtime owner of the Mexican family restaurant chain. The family, which also includes Ted’s wife, Maria and son Adrian, has being operating Torero’s locally since 1979.

“We’re excited; we’re all excited for this,” Rodriguez Medina said.

She has been running the Rainier location for the last 20 years and was presented with a unique opportunity, which prompted the recent move.

Fred Meyer, the property owner for the Rainier location, needed Torero’s space to build a gas station there. Fred Meyer presented Torero’s with an option to move to a different location, still on the property, where the former liquor store used to be, next to Fred Meyer.

Rodriguez Medina considered the liquor store space, a couple of other spaces on Rainier, the old Denny’s location and another spot on Airport Way, but ultimately picked The Landing.

“It’s growing and it’s kind of a cool place to come hang out,” she said. “And Renton has definitely shifted a little bit. Instead of everybody going to Rainier, (they) are kind of shopping that way,” she said, about The Landing retail center. “The silver lining was that we had choices to go to and we definitely thought that The Landing would fit us very well.”

The Rainier location stayed strong, even weathering the recession, but took a hit during the recent construction to widen Rainier Avenue. Lunch time business, at that particular Torero’s location, took a dive.

“The 20 years that we were there, we made things work, especially through the recession,” Rodriguez Medina said. “We came out ahead and we were able to go ahead and fund this construction through the sales of that store.”

With the new restaurant comes a new look for the Torero’s chain.

“The new look makes you feel like you’re on a patio,” said Ted Rodriguez. “It’s open.”

He calls it “Mexican, but modern,” with “so much glass and light.”

Signature fixtures from the restaurant on Rainier are there, like the Spanish tile used to make the interior roof and the 20-year-old tortilla machine. Now The Landing Torero’s will display the only tortilla machine, amongst the other restaurant locations. A huge, wrought-iron chandelier fills the glass atrium in the central part of the restaurant.

It was created especially for the Rodriguez family by artisans in Guadalajara, selected by export adviser Alberto Romo and sent to Renton. A wrought-iron gate, made by the same artisans, will greet diners at the entrance to the restaurant.

The new location has bright colors and modern curves, but it’s still Torero’s.

“You’ll see the Mexican vibe, bright colors and everything keeping true to being able to tell when you walk in that it’s a Mexican restaurant,” said Rodriguez Medina.

The menu will be updated slightly, to include new salads and steaks. There are plans to offer specials that feature more recently popular and traditional dishes, like molé. The familiar Torero’s fare will remain the same.

“We’re known in Renton – for what – since ‘75 (before her dad took over), so can’t change anything that people keep coming back for,” she said.

Her father is excited by the opportunity to be closer to faithful Boeing customers, who’ve been coming to the Rainier location for lunch. The Boeing Renton plant is just steps away from The Landing. Rodriguez also likes the parking options and collection of retailers at the center.

“I’m excited,” he said. “I’m very positive about moving here; I was not in the beginning.”

Through the transition, there was no question the business would keep a location in Renton.

“Renton – it was a no brainer; we had to stay in Renton,” said Rodriguez Medina. “The people of Renton have always showed us their love and we want to give it right back.”

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