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By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

After sitting vacant for a number of years, the property at the corner of Broadway and Highway 25 has found new life as the home of the Mexican Grilled Cheese – Hartsville’s newest restaurant.

Alberto and Araceli Rodriguez, who formerly operated La Quesadilla, have turned the historic house – featured in the Historical Society column in last week’s Vidette – into a restaurant with a name guaranteed to draw attention.

The Mexican Grilled Cheese opened for business Sunday amid much fanfare on social media from customers who missed La Quesadilla’s fare. The former site, across from the high school, has been closed since a fire broke out at the site in February.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Owner Alberto Rodriguez and head cook Fili Rojas pose beside the sign for the Mexican Grilled Cheese.

“The plan was to have the building repaired and still be there,” Alberto Rodriguez said. “We couldn’t get it worked out… The reason we chose this site is we thought it would be quick to get going.

“We’ve only been working here a couple of months. It’s already got the hood and the walk-in cooler and freezer. The building was empty when we got here so it was a big start. All we had to do was clean up and start brining in my equipment.”

Rodriguez said the name for the new restaurant was that “if you really think about it, what would a Mexican grilled cheese be? A quesadilla!”

Rodriguez and his employees have been working since early May to get the house ready. Most of the staff at the former La Quesadilla has followed Rodriguez over to the Mexican Grilled Cheese, including longtime head cook Fili Rojas.

The menu, Rodriguez said, remains pretty much the same as when it was La Quesadilla. It features what he called “common Mexican meals.” They have added some new items, which Rodriguez said customers should come by and try!

“The food is going to be the same; it’s just new name, new building,” Alberto said.

Rodriguez praised the staff for sticking with him and thanked the customers who have been asking for months when he would reopen.

“It’s not going to be a new environment; you’ll feel like you’re right at home,” he said. “We have a very loyal customer base and when they come into my restaurant, they’ll know every face as a familiar face. We try to run it like a family and serve our friends in Hartsville the food they’ve enjoyed for a long time.”

The Mexican Grilled Cheese will also offer outdoor eating options as well as a carryout service at the side entrance facing Highway 25.

As parking has been a concern at the site in the past, Rodriguez has obtained permission to use part of the property next door and created a gravel parking lot there that ties into the main parking area at the back of the building.

The Mexican Grilled Cheese is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant can be reached at 615-680-3166.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]