Growth bolsters dining scene in Santa Fe, N.M.

Growth bolsters dining scene in Santa Fe, N.M.

SANTA FE N.M. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

“The Santa Fe restaurant market is poised for a booming decade,” said Al Lucero, a state restaurant association board member and owner with his wife, Laurie, of Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen [3]. The 166-seat restaurant, launched in Santa Fe in 1985, is expected to build on already solid business. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

“This is our 22nd year here, and it’s a record,” Lucero said. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

At least one nationally renowned culinarian figures in the outlook for boom times in northern New Mexico’s hospitality economy. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

Chef-entrepreneur-designer Mark Miller, who created the noted Coyote Cafe [4] in Santa Fe in 1987 and brought his Western-inspired cuisine to Washington, D.C., in 1992 with the debut of Red Sage, has been hired to oversee a Red Sage restaurant at the Buffalo Thunder Resort, 12 miles northwest of Santa Fe. Built on tribal lands owned by the Pojoaque nation, the resort is to be operated by Hilton Hotels Corp. and would be New Mexico’s largest casino-golf-hotel facility when it opens. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

Complementing the Buffalo Thunder development’s debut would be the expansion of Santa Fe’s civic center, set to grow its convention space from 45,000 square feet to more than 72,000 square feet upon its completion next August. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

Santa Fe’s airport also was recently upgraded to allow flights by larger commercial aircraft. Delta, American and United airlines plan to add direct flights to the city from many major hubs. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

All the development is helping propel longtime Santa Fe restaurateurs into new ventures as well. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

In July, Heather and David Sellers bought the 18-year-old Julian’s Restaurant just southeast of Santa Fe’s main plaza and converted it into Amavi, a 110-seat restaurant that serves chef David Sellers’ Mediterranean cuisine. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

The Sellerses remodeled the bar area and added 28 seats. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

“There is an upcoming scene for people wanting more classy, sophisticated bars where they can get appetizers and hang out,” Heather Sellers said. “We also do full dinners in there as well.” — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

Check averages range from $60 to $70 per person. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

“It’s unique in that there are not many fine-dining Mediterranean cuisine restaurants here,” she said. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

The Sellerses had worked at the city’s Santacafe restaurant. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

Santa Fe, which relies on state government and tourism as its major industries, can pose challenges, Heather Sellers said. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

“The business can be seasonal, but your goal is to try to attract local diners so they keep coming all year-round,” she said. “I see dining in Santa Fe only going up.” — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

Tourism is highest in July and August, but the area has become a year-round destination with skiing in Taos to the north. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

Mark Kiffin, chef-owner of The Compound restaurant said, “We really have a dynamic local clientele along with the tourists, especially those with second homes here.” — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

Kiffin, who bought the 150-seat Compound in 2000, said tourism took a hit after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, but it rebounded. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

“We’re really a destination location,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of day travelers, and the average stay is usually three to four nights. The fine-dining business has grown every year, not by leaps or bounds, but it has been steady. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

“People think of us as a summer destination, but we are actually the busiest during the Christmas holiday because of the traditions that come to Santa Fe during that season.” — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

Lisa Sanderson, executive director of the Santa Fe Restaurant Association, said the number of restaurants in the city is “ever-changing.” However, there currently are about 250, up from 200 just 10 years ago in the city of 63,000, she estimated. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

Lucero said the revival of Santa Fe’s dining culture began when Miller launched Coyote Cafe and grew with the renewed attention it helped inspire for traditional New Mexican food. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

Miller will be the consulting chef for the new Red Sage restaurant, which is scheduled to open in November 2008. It would mark a Western revival for Red Sage, whose original incarnation in Washington closed last year. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

The Pojoaque nation’s pueblo entered into a 20-year management contract with Hilton to run the property. Tribal Gov. George Rivera, in a statement, said, “The Hilton name adds prestige and an incredible marketing network that will attract visitors from all over the world to the Buffalo Thunder Resort.” — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

The resort will also include an 80,000-square-foot casino, a conference center, a golf course and a 390-room hotel. A separate all-suite hotel is also planned. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.

Lucero said all the developments bode well for Santa Fe restaurateurs. The city’s restaurateurs also anticipate an influx of tourists to attend a large celebration in 2010 marking the 400th anniversary of Santa Fe becoming a Spanish colonial capital, a consequence of its role as the terminus of the oldest road in the New World. — A $55 million convention center expansion and a $280 million resort nearby, both set to open in 2008, are buoying restaurateurs’ expectations of continued prosperity in New Mexico’s capital.