Relish (8019 Menaul NE, near Flying Star) shuffles ownership and takes a short holiday. Well, now that's confusing, and I don't want you to think that Chef/Owner Johnny Orr is leaving, because he's not, his business partners are. Tony Nethery, who is chef at Monte Vista Fire Station (Central and Bryn Mawr) and a huge lover of cheese, bought out Orr's other partners. Nethery and Orr plan to work together on some minor improvements to the Northeast Heights cheese and sandwich shop, and to accomplish that, they'll close from Dec. 23 through Jan. 2. The two also plan to talk about possible future plans for Relish, including the idea of expanding the shop's hours. Over the next few weeks, Nethery plans to divide his time between Relish and the Fire Station. He's reluctant to give up his chef duties at the restaurant, where he's implemented a series of popular menus that incorporate his Southern comfort-food aesthetic. I promise to follow Nethery, Orr and both restaurants all this all unfolds in the new year.
M&J Sanitary Tortillas Factory has been sold and the restaurant is open again. Santa Fean Chuck Waghorne bought the building in order to consolidate the operations of his gourmet packaged food businesses. Waghorne sells chiles, spices, soup mixes and the like under the Los Chileros de Nuevo Mexico brand. He is also the new owner of Purple Onion (a small line of refrigerated foods including hummus and baba ghanoush) and Santa Fe Gourmet (salad dressings and salsas which are also available in the refrigerated section at many grocery stores.) The Tortilla Factory building (402 Second SW) was the perfect space for Waghorne to accomplish production of all three lines. He didn't want to run a restaurant, however, so Waghorne leased M&J's space to Felipe Ronquillo, the former owner of Chihuahua Buffet (which was in the old Pacific Pearl at San Mateo and Osuna). Ronquillo told me, in a lilting accent that reflects his childhood in Mexico, that his food is mostly New Mexican, with a bit of Mexican flavor. M&J Restaurant (he dropped the Sanitary Tortilla Factory part) has a menu similar to the one offered by Bea Montoya when she ran the place, but the food is sure to have a flavor all its own. Ronquillo says his customers love it and many have become regulars in the two weeks he's been open. M&J is open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. seven days a week. Call 243-2444 for more information.
Speaking of Downtown restaurants, Ralli's (Fourth north of Central, 243-1093) is now delivering breakfast, lunch and dinner. So now, when it's so cold and windy you can't bear the thought of leaving your office, you can make someone else brave the weather to bring you food!