ABQ-area eating places which have closed since March 2020 » Albuquerque Journal
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque’s food and beverage scene hasn’t been immune to the financial pressures of the pandemic.
Here’s a list of some of the Albuquerque metro restaurants, breweries, bars and clubs to close permanently since March 2020.
This list will be updated. Don’t see an eatery that you know has closed for good? Send tips to Pilar Martinez at [email protected]
P’tit Louis Bistro
Nob Hill bid adieu to French restaurant P’tit Louis Bistro with the restaurant’s closing in late February.
Aaron Hundley, who purchased the restaurant in 2019, said the decision was difficult to make, but the debt of keeping the restaurant open became unsustainable.
Although the restaurant, located at 3218 Silver SE, is closed, Hundley said he is looking at the possibility of keeping the brand alive through P’tit Louis pop-up events and its sister restaurant, C3’s Bistro in Corrales.
La Crêpe Michel
La Crêpe Michel, a long-standing French restaurant tucked away in Albuquerque’s Old Town, has permanently closed, according to the cafe’s website.
“We have decided to permanently close La Crêpe Michel,” owner Claudie Zamet-Wilcox wrote on the cafe’s website. “… We will miss you all and we have wonderful memories that will last forever.
For more than 30 years the small cafe at 400 San Felipe NW had been steadily dishing up a menu of classic French cuisine mainly centered around its namesake item crêpes.
Broken Trail Distillery & Brewery
Uptown’s Broken Trail Distillery & Brewery closed permanently Nov. 28 after being unable to weather decreased sales amid on-going public health orders.
Owner Matt Simonds said the distillery had been struggling for much of the pandemic and even indoor dining was not enough to keep the business afloat.
Ultimately, he decided to close when the shut-down order was made last week to avoid losing more money.
“The unfortunate reality is that we didn’t stop having to pay rent or insurance or pay my employees,” Simonds said. “And so every month we were just losing more and more money, hoping that things would get better, hoping that things would change and they never did.”
He said that unlike other distilleries, Broken Trail was not “ideally situated” for package sales and many customers were still uncomfortable with the idea of visiting taprooms, which also limited business.
Simonds said the decision was difficult to make since the closure affects his family and the families of all of his employees.
The brewery and distillery opened in 2015 and produces beer, gin, vodka, rum and bourbon.
Scarpas on Montgomery
Scarpas Brick Oven Pizza, the decades-old Northeast Heights Italian restaurant, announced in October its plan to shut down its Montgomery location by the end of November.
The property at 9700 Montgomery NE – which is owned by developer and Scarpas brand owner Josh Skarsgard – is planned to be redeveloped into a gas station.
Owner Joe Sommers said about 40 workers were to be laid off. Sommers said he is looking to open another Scarpas location in the near future, possibly at the Coors Pavilion Shopping Center at Coors and St. Josephs, a property which is also owned by Skarsgard.
The original location of Scarpas at 5500 Academy NE will remain open.
Ortega’s New Mexican Restaurant closed permanently Sept. 12 after 32 years in business.
Rudy and Edna Ortega said the decision to close the restaurant on Wyoming and Comanche was tough. Rudy said the past few months of moving between dine-in and take-out made it difficult to sustain business – and with he and his wife nearing their 80s, it was also time for them to retire.
“It’s a little bittersweet,” he said. “We’d like to end it on a better note without the virus.”
Heartfelt comments immediately flooded the Facebook post that announced the closure, and some customers even dropped off small gifts.
The Standard Diner closed down Sept. 7 to transition into a new location of the Range Cafe.
The diner at 320 Central SE had been doing business for 14 years.
The restaurant announced the change on Facebook.
“COVID has made us look at how we can survive the future of restaurants and felt that becoming The Range Café was a smart choice,” the post said. “It will allow us to operate our restaurants as one concept.”
The Standard Diner, as well as the recently closed Freight House Kitchen + Tap in Bernalillo, were “sister” restaurants to the Range Café, which has multiple locations in central New Mexico.
The post said that while the restaurant is transitioning into a Range Café, popular menu items from both the Standard Diner and Freight House will be on the newly updated menu, and Standard Diner staff will remain.
The Blue Grasshopper Brewery
The Blue Grasshopper Brewery in August announced it would be closing two locations and has sold a third location following a bankruptcy filing, the Rio Rancho Observer reports.
The first brewery opened in 2014 and co-owner Greg Nielsen said the expansion to three locations in total happened too fast and is what ultimately led to the closures.
The Arrowhead Ridge Drive location in Rio Rancho and the Downtown Albuquerque locations are closing while the location in Riverside Plaza will remain but new ownership and with a new name.
The Riverside Plaza location will be renamed as The Hopper Brewery with plans to open once the pandemic has ended.
Model Pharmacy announced in July it was preparing to close its doors after more than 70 years in business.
“It’s (been) a good run, and I’ve enjoyed 99.9% of the time,” owner Jack Lerner said.
While the pandemic has shut many stores prematurely, Lerner had been toying for a while with the idea of retiring. When the store was forced to close temporarily in March, he decided it was the perfect time to retire.
“It’s going to be interesting not having to get up and go to work,” he said.
Uptown Le Peep
Le Peep, a long-time breakfast and lunch spot in Albuquerque’s Uptown, closed its doors for the last time in mid-July after more than 34 years in service.
The location at 2125 Louisiana NE was the last of several Le Peep locations around the city. Early last year, locations at 4921 Jefferson NE and 11004 Montgomery NE closed and were converted into Weck’s Select restaurants.
The closure came the same day that the new public health order barring indoor service at restaurants went into effect.
A post on the restaurant’s website announcing the closure also thanked its patrons for their support.
Downtown Garcia’s Kitchen
For 45 years, Garcia’s Kitchen served up New Mexican food from its original location on the corner of 4th and Mountain in Downtown Albuquerque, but that legacy came to an end in late June.
Garcia’s Kitchen will be closing the location at 1113 4th NW for good following several months of dwindling sales amid the pandemic, said vice president Dan Garcia.
“This is one of the hardest decisions we have had to make as a company since my dad hasn’t been here,” said Garcia, whose father founded the restaurant in 1975.
Several factors contributed to the closure, but the pandemic is what “took (them) over the top,” Garcia said.
Unlike the other locations around the city, the original location was unable to add outdoor seating. It had also long been dealing with increasing rates of crime and homelessness in the surrounding area, which made employees feel unsafe, Garcia said.
Range Cafe on Menaul
After 17 years of serving up stacks of pancakes and diner classics with a New Mexican flair, the Range Cafe on Menaul and Princeton closed for good in late June.
Co-owner Matt DiGregory said the high crime rate of the area combined with the prolonged temporary closure following the pandemic contributed to the decision.
“Basically the pandemic was sort of the first nail and the crime of the area has always been a big problem in that part of town,” DiGregory said in a phone interview Thursday.
The restaurant has five other locations spread from Los Lunas to Bernalillo.
Asian fusion restaurant Mogu Mogu announced its permanent closure June 1, after being closed for business since March 23.
Mogu Mogu, located at 4001 Masthead NE near Jefferson and Paseo Del Norte, opened four years ago.
The combination of social distancing restrictions, coronavirus uncertainty and a small restaurant size all led to the closure, the posting said.
The restaurant initially closed its doors March 23.
1933 Brewing Company
1933 Brewing Company, a veteran-owned business in Rio Rancho, announced its permanent closure in late May, the Rio Rancho Observer reports.
Brewery owners Rick Renteria and Trish Crespo applied for relief loans like the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan, but they had one month to receive relief before they were unable to make rent.
“We never received the help we needed in time,” Renteria said.
The brewery did not receive the PPP loan. They did get the EIDL, but by the time they received it, the couple missed their rent in April, Renteria said.
“From a business perspective, it makes no sense to continue to operate. On top of that, our landlords weren’t willing to work with us on rent.
“We essentially couldn’t make rent for the month of April, so we had to shut down our business,” he said.
The brewery opened in August 2018.
The Last Call
The owner of Albuquerque’s The Last Call restaurant posted on social media in mid-May that the Downtown location closure would be permanent.
Rio Rancho’s Sal-E-Boy’s Pizzeria permanently closed on May 10 after 38 years in business, according to a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
“I’m touched by the love this community has shown me and this business,” the post read. “It’s the loyal customers that kept us going for all these years.”
The national soup and salad buffet chain announced May 8 that none of its 97 of locations would be reopening. The chain had two Albuquerque locations, one at 4901 San Mateo NE and the other at 10126 Coors NW.
The Cooperage – a landmark in Albuquerque that served steak and seafood for more than four decades from its barrel-shaped location on Lomas and Louisiana NE – closed in April, a victim of the coronavirus safety mandate to not seat customers, said general manager and working partner Cici Martinez.
“We’re not exactly the type of restaurant where people come to get curbside pickup for prime rib,” Martinez said. “That’s not who we are and it’s just not what’s fitting the budget of people who are going through this stressful time.”
Also affected was the Cooperage Catering Co., which operated out of the 10,000-square-foot restaurant building. The catering company lost contracts as businesses and individuals were forced to cancel events with large gatherings to prevent the spread of the virus, Martinez said.
The Cooperage’s main partner, Jim Schumacher, previously told the Journal that the recent and abrupt closure of Noah’s Event Venue had a big effect because the catering portion of his business had about 50 events planned through Noah’s for the rest of 2020 and into 2021.
Martinez said that even as the restaurant and catering business are being dissolved, all remaining catering contracts will be honored. After that, there are plans to resurrect the catering business, probably under a new name and possibly in conjunction with Scarpas restaurant, which until January was owned by Schumacher and Martinez, who sold it to Scarpas general manager Joe Sommers.