There’s a familiar name on the bottom right corner of the menu at La Sirenita, a Mexican restaurant which opened earlier this month: Quarters Barbecue.
It’s not just because the restaurant occupies Quarters’ former location at 905 Yale SE — the restaurant’s menu is fusing barbecue and birria.
“This is the best match I’ve ever seen,” said Constantine “Connie” Nellos, the longtime owner of Quarters. “Mexican food and barbecue.”
La Sirenita co-owner Renee Rodriguez said the culinary pairing brings something new to the neighborhood.
“It brings a place that people can … just experience food in a different way,” Rodriguez said. “Everybody knew this as barbecue, and now people are coming in that only went to Quarters for barbecue, and they’re trying the Mexican food.”
Marco Sirena – whose aquatic last name inspired La Sirenita – and Rodriguez opened the restaurant as a food truck four years ago. Rodriguez had a decades-long career in food service; Sirena, who previously worked in fire protection, had a love of cooking.
“I started cooking for some friends,” Sirena said. “Then they’re like, ‘Well, why don’t you just cook for us every weekend?’ And I said, ‘It’ll cost you.'”
His weekend cooking turned into a business, which grew into two trucks, and now the bricks-and-mortar store. The trucks are still in operation, and Sirena hopes to add additional trucks this year.
One of La Sirenita’s regular stops was Differential Brewing, which Nellos’ grandson, Tino Nellos, owns. Tino Nellos initially connected Rodriguez and Sirena with his grandfather, Connie Nellos, who closed Quarters in February 2022. After more than 50 years in business, he was looking to lease out the space.
“We were actually looking at restaurant spaces, just casually, wasn’t anything set in stone, and we were talking to him about it,” Rodriguez said. “And he said, ‘Why don’t you talk to my grandpa?'”
Nellos now has a taste for the food at La Sirenita. Rodriguez said he’s at the restaurant almost every day.
“I love the food,” Nellos said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Rodriguez likes the shift to a brick-and-mortar location.
“I get to interact with our customers a lot more,” Rodriguez said. “They remember us, and they’re like ‘Hey, I went to your truck, you know, three years ago’ … those types of things – it’s really rewarding to know that they’re actually coming back and they’re becoming lifelong customers.”