It appears that Caliente Bar & Grill in downtown Shelton has closed.

As of late Monday, the establishment’s neon sign with the sun logo had been taken down and the advertised phone number was out of service.

The establishment was closed on Monday and there was no sign on the door for potential customers indicating what might have happened.

Pieces of lumber could be seen stacked inside the restaurant at 127 Center St., so it’s uncertain if perhaps the place would be remodeled and given a new name.

In fact, that appears to be what is happening. A construction crew was working on the interior Tuesday morning and another individual inside said the bar has been under new ownership for awhile, is being redesigned, and would open with a new name.

Specialized in Mexican fare

Caliente had been open a few years and specialized in Mexican food. It promoted itself as being “home of the $5 Margarita.”

The establishment was perhaps best known for its outdoor seating area and bar, visible from Center Street, which appeared to sometimes attract large crowds on hot evenings in the early evening (think “after-work” crowd).

Its landmark yellowish-brick facade provided a distinctive look, with the older building having been refurbished to open Caliente a few years back.

The word “caliente” means hot or fiery in Spanish.

Slightly older crowd

Since it opened, Caliente seemed to have attracted a slightly more mature crowd than some nearby drinking establishments that specialize in the 20s and 30s crowd.

This seemed to translate into an earlier crowd, meaning Caliente wasn’t as busy late at night and often would close before its competitors.

Other comparable restaurants and bars in the immediate vicinity include Downtown Danny O’s, Porky’s Cafe, Verace and the newer Bar 140. Anna's Place and Cuppy's also operate nearby.

The success of the Draft House, a bar about a mile from downtown on Bridgeport Avenue, may be impacting drinking establishments in the city center.