Farmington couple quits their jobs to become first-time restaurant owners

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FARMINGTON, N.M. — A new restaurant chain has made its way over to the Four Corners and they are serving up one of America’s favorite comfort foods, with a twist. It’s called “I Heart Mac and Cheese.”

The mac and cheese is made to order so visitors can pick whatever toppings you want.

“Two years ago, I would have never dreamed we’d be sitting here right now,” said Kyle Santangelo, owner of the Farmington location.

Kyle and his wife Autumn Santangelo were always longing for more time on their hands.

“I’ve been in the oil field for quite a while and my wife was in medical and sometimes the hours got crazy,” Kyle said.

Autumn couldn’t agree more.

“Our kids, you know, we really wanted to have a little bit more time with them they are little for only so long,” she said.

So they decided to take a leap of faith into an entirely new career.

“My wife and I were going through all the stuff during COVID and we started to think about what we wanted to do later on,” Kyle said.

“So, we kind of started looking at things online and we found several fast food restaurants,” Autumn said.

“She showed me I Heart Mac and Cheese and I kind of thought she was crazy,” Kyle added.

A few weeks later, they were on their way to meet the franchise.

“We called Joe, he is one of the big guys up at I Heart, and he invited us down to Florida to try it,” Autumn said.

The decision was an easy one.

“I think before we left the parking lot we decided we were going to do it,” Kyle said.

Now the Four Corners is home to the first I Heart Mac and Cheese in New Mexico.

“With this community being so supportive it’s been absolutely a phenomenal experience … we wanted something fun for kids too, we’re a sports family, so we, I admit it, probably eat more fast food than we probably should – we wanted something a little bit different here,” Autumn said.

Autumn and Kyle plan to open two other locations, including in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho. They are also the first location in the country to give a little southwest spice to the South Florida franchise by offering green chile.