Downtown favorite set to reopen Monday after 2020 fire

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The COVID-19 coronavirus global pandemic has been a challenge for restaurants, including one downtown favorite that will reopen Monday.

Papa Frank’s was started by Joey Gallegos and his wife, Priscilla nearly 22 years ago.

"I got tired of working for other people," Joey Gallegos said. "I wanted a place where people could go and feel like they’re at home."

The restaurant serves all types of customers who order inexpensive breakfast burritos and lunch options.

"We get anyone from your federal judges to your blue collar workers," Papa Frank’s owner Joey Gallegos.

Before the pandemic closed dining statewide, Papa Frank’s sold hundreds of burritos each day. The business survived the shutdown but then in June, the restaurant was severely damaged in a fire.

"It was caused by a transient in the back," Joey recalled. "I guess it was raining and I guess he wanted to stay warm, and he caused a fire."

Worse yet, Joey also lost his younger brother shortly before the fire happened. He recalled that, "it seems like it’s the end of the world but you know it’s not." And it wasn’t.

The community of people who loved Papa Frank’s showed up again in a different way. They raised $15,560 and expressed their gratitude for Joey and Priscilla in a GoFundMe campaign that Joey’s sister set up.

"My heart goes out to all the people that have supported us," Joey said.

"I just get so emotional because these people come here every day, and they’re so giving," Joey expressed in astonishment. "It’s just like, I know a lot of these people couldn’t even afford it and they gave. I just want to thank Albuquerque for helping us."

When Papa Frank’s reopens Monday, Joey will be honoring his brother’s memory with artwork on the wall and a burger on the menu dedicated to him. However, reopening means that he will be getting used to folding hundreds of burritos again.

"Don’t come all at one time ’cause it’s just me and my wife," Joey joked.

Papa Frank’s reopens August 9 at 7 a.m. and opens at 7 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Joey said he had a long list of people to thank, which is as follows:

The GoFundMe donors, the firefighters who showed up quickly to try and save the restaurant, his sisters Maria and Lisa, Kris and Cindy from MYC Environmental Construction who helped them rebuild, along with Phil Mott, Vic with Fetching Designs who created the menu boards and signs; Andrew Ortiz, a friend and lawyer who showed up at 6 a.m. on the morning of the fire to offer Joey help and Michelle, the architect with Strata Designs who helped make Joey and Priscilla’s vision a reality.