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COLUMBIA – Today, Saluda owner Steve Cook and general manager Andrew Thompson announced their plans to open Arroyo, a “hip, upscale” Mexican restaurant in Five Points, in time for back-to-school.

Arroyo, which promises “good vibes” and “better tacos” on its website, will be located between Five Points staples Pawley’s Front Porch and Eddie’s Calzones at 819 Harden Street. The menu will include familiar Mexican specialties, twists on classic dishes and a full-service tequila bar. “We think we can do it in a way that will hopefully offer fresh and vibrant flavors and put a new twist on things,” Cook said.

While the team’s previous restaurant, Saluda’s, is known for its “Southern cuisine with a continental flair,” Cook said he and Thompson had been thinking about expanding their horizons since last fall.

“We didn’t want to open a restaurant with the same upscale level of service and cuisine as Saluda’s,” he said. “But we wanted to make sure that everything we did was of the highest quality, even though it was a more casual restaurant.”

According to Cook, Mexican cuisine was a perfect fit for their emerging concept.

“Mexican food is so accessible,” Cook said. “If you want something heavier, you can have enchiladas, and I can have a margarita and some chips and salsa, and we’ll still eat together.”

The Arroyo team hopes to open the restaurant’s doors at the beginning of back-to-school season to introduce families and students alike to the “Tulum-style” interior and extensive bar program.

“Five Points experiences a surge of energy at this time,” Cook said. “The whole town comes alive.”

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As Cook and Thompson put the finishing touches on the new restaurant, they’re excited to bring something familiar — yet unique — to Soda City.

“We wanted to bring back that kind of casual, relaxed, come-in-your-flip-flops experience,” he said. “That’s what Five Points is missing.”