More Eats in EDO. I've walked past the intersection of Central and Arno about a million times, and each trip invariably ends with me fantasizing about turning the big white building on its southeast corner into a restaurant. Apparently my brain is leaking, because the thing's all fenced off now and appears to be under review for a liquor license. I contacted Bill Hamen, landlord of the building and several other properties along Central in the EDO district. "We've actually been working on restoring those buildings for two and a half years." Hamen says, "They were quite a mess, but we've restored them in a historic manner." And the liquor license? "That'd be Matt DiGregory." DiGregory is an owner of the Range Cafés. Apparently, he and his three brothers are updating the building at 320 Central SE, originally built as a Texaco Station in 1938, to include a modern kitchen, sleek dining areas and a front patio. DiGregory explains that despite his Range connection, this project is not affiliated with any other restaurants. "Hopefully it's something that hasn't been done in Albuquerque yet."
Ironically, the brothers plan to name their new venture The Standard Diner. The menu will focus on eclectic American-style food, changing specials and more than a few creative punches. The food side is being developed by Chef Jay Wulf, who's worked with DiGregory at Prairie Star and the Range Café. Think San Francisco meets downtown Albuquerque. "We're really excited to be in that new part of town," DiGregory says. "It's not in the bar district; it's a nice upcoming space." Bill Hamen agrees. "It's going to be a good asset for the neighborhood," he says. The Standard Diner should be open by September of 2005. Stay tuned for all hot the gossip.
Three Cheers for Iron Wells! Congratulations to Chef Robb Wells of Scalo Northern Italian Grill on his recent "Iron Chef" victory in Canada. Wells competed in the Grand Finale Competition at Toronto's Hot & Spicy Food Festival, where he beat the baggy pants off of the festival's two-year reigning Iron Chef titleholder. Wells has since returned to Scalo, where he continues to work as the Executive Chef. Felicitazioni!
And Speaking of Hot and Spicy ... The City of Albuquerque will host a charity salsa-tasting on Old Town's Church Street this Saturday. I honestly don't know what's better; the promise of all-you-can-eat salsa, or the fact that the admission wristbands are just $5. Heat-seeking altruistic cheapskates rejoice! See this week's "Lucky 7" for all the tasty details.
New Tenants at Downtown's Silver Moon Lodge. Excluding the odd Quinceañera party here and there, the attached restaurant at Downtown's Silver Moon Lodge has been curiously quiet in recent years. You might remember the building as home to a few stylish but short-lived dining concepts, including Starz! by Santa Fe chef James Campbell Caruso of El Farol and Java Joe's 56 Hope Road. Even I've spent some time in that kitchen, and I can attest that it's one of the better facilities that I've worked in Downtown. Anyhow, I was about as pleased as punch when I heard chef/owners Kathy and Moses Esquibel moved into the space this week. Kat's Café, as it's called now, will serve traditional New Mexican and American fare like Frito pie, fish and chips and Philly cheese steak sandwiches. Kat's is open at 8 a.m. every day except Monday, and will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you're curious, hit them up for lunch after the Downtown Growers Market wraps up one of these Saturdays.
Santa Fe's Cookworks closed (for good) this past weekend. I got a postcard last week announcing a huge sale at Cookworks (322 S. Guadalupe), Santa Fe's premier destination for epicurean books, gadgets and gourmet foods. Now, I'm usually overjoyed at the prospect of pinching a few pennies, but this one stopped me cold. "This sale cannot be repeated," the card read, "due to the fact the doors will be locked forever at 6 p.m. Saturday." Umm ... what? After nearly 25 years in the business, is Cookworks really throwing in the towel? The store clerk I talked to said, yes, it really is, though she wasn't able to explain why. Owner Charles Kehoe was out of town and couldn't be reached for comment at press time, but I should hopefully have an answer soon.