Created: 04/09/2014 7:21 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
At last – some signs of life in Downtown Albuquerque’s struggling economy.
In recent months we’ve covered a whole slew a landmark Downtown businesses pulling the plug – mostly restaurants – but now there are new ones sprouting in the old places.
Lunchtime Wednesday – Day One at the new Azul Burritos at 4th and Central, where Nick’s café closed down back in September after more than 30 years in business. The place was hustling and bustling once again, thanks to the owners of the popular Café Azul at 12th and Mountain, who decided to expand into Downtown. It’s fast food burritos and quesadillas in the old Nick’s right on the corner, and a full service Cocina Azul coming soon next door.
“There’s a lot of doom and gloom,” owner Frank Barela said. “Sometimes I even get caught up in it when I read it and I think – oh my God what am I doing – but no – we took the step and it’s a great leap as a matter of fact. We’ve completely re-modeled this store.”
Strictly speaking, the corner of High and Silver SE is not Downtown, it’s East Downtown, but that’s close enough for some welcome news. Whoie Hog Barbecue wants to buy the city’s old and vacated Fire Station 2 and open a restaurant.
Back Downtown again, there was another lunchtime rush at the new Chick-fil-A sandwich stand in the Simms building at 4th and Gold, where Rebel Donut closed its doors in December.
“We know there’s a tremendous need Downtown for grab-and-go type food,” said owner Len Spadoni. “We know there are a lot of full service restaurants but we wanted to fill a need for some grab-and-go food, and what better thing to do than have a Chick-fil-A down here?”
And so it goes Downtown. Businesses come and go, and the road is sometimes rocky. But residential development continues – apartment complexes and condos are going up – and people have to eat somewhere!